The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has started testing the radar system of its newly acquired Almaz-Antey S-400 Triumf long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.
In an announcement from the Ankara Governorate on 24 November 2019 (via Daily Sabah), the TSK and the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) tested multiple systems together, including the F-16 and the S-400’s 91N6E radar system (via a video on social media).
It is unclear if the S-400’s radars were used to track the F-16s or F-4s flying over the testing site at Mürted Air Base, but there is no doubt that those systems were in proximity to each other during the tests.
The TSK intends to fully operationalize the S-400 by April 2020.
Speaking on the completion of Turkey’s S-400 project, the head of Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheev said that Ankara and Moscow have “big plans” on further defence collaboration.
It is unclear where this new cooperation will lead, though there have been reports of Turkey showing an interest in United Aircraft Corporation’s (UAC) aircraft, notably the Su-35 and Su-57. However, it is unclear if negotiations are actually occurring on either of these platforms, at least at this time.
Turkey formally signed its S-400 order in December 2017 for $2.5 billion US, following a year of negotiating with Russia (when it formally expressed interest in the system in February 2017).
Russia completed deliveries of the first batch/tranche of systems in September. However, according to SSB, the delivery of the second batch may be delayed past-2020 due to talks on transfer-of-technology and co-production, which Turkey had originally sought when it engaged Russia (via Reuters).
However, by committing to the S-400, Turkey had relinquished its place in the F-35 Lightning II program. In fact, the Pentagon is now moving towards finding alternate suppliers for the various subassemblies and parts Turkey was to produce for each F-35 operator as a result of the exit.
Besides potentially seeking alternate fighters from Europe or Russia, Turkey is now expected to reinforce its efforts to develop the TF-X, i.e., its national next-generation fighter.
Turkish Aerospace is aiming to get the TF-X prototype flying by 2025. The head of the SSB, Dr. Ismail Demir, Turkey is also speaking to potential partners in the program, including Pakistan (CNN Turk).
Finally, Turkey is also developing an original long-range SAM solution under the SİPER and HISAR-U (it is unclear if these two are the same program, or two distinct systems).