Russia’s controversial sale of S-400 air defense missiles to NATO member Turkey has now reached the delivery stage, with the first batch en-route to their destination, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed Monday.
Speaking to reporters before leaving for Bosnia, Erdogan wouldn’t say, however, when the Russian missile defense system would reach their destination. Erdogan said:
The preparations for the journey, the loading (of the S-400) is continuing … The S-400 will arrive by planes. May it be beneficial for our country, our region and especially for the world.
Local media outlet Ahval reported the initial S-400 delivery has been sent on two cargo planes from a Russian military base, and a Russian technical team is set to arrive in Turkey to oversee installation.
Washington has previously told its NATO ally that Ankara’s adoption of Russian S-400 missile technology alongside U.S. F-35 fighters was incompatible and would endanger Western defence.
The S-400 is the latest generation surface-to-air defense system developed by Russia as a rival for America’s own Patriot weaponry, and is considered by NATO countries to pose a threat to their combined air operations.
The S-400 missiles are not interoperable with the technology NATO countries use, as the alliance requires.
The United States suspended the delivery of F-35 warplane-related equipment to Turkey in April until Ankara ditched the Russian deal, which now appears unlikely.
“We have . . . been clear that acquisition of the [Russian] S-400 is not compatible with the F-35,” Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, a Department of Defense (DOD) spokesman declared in a statement, according to the Washington Post. “We very much regret the current situation . . . but the DOD is taking prudent steps to protect the shared investments made in our critical technology.”