I will use S-400 if necessary – Erdoğan
The S-400 missile defence systems newly purchased by Turkey from Russia are not just for show and will be used to defend the country when necessary, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters during a televised interview on Monday.
“We didn’t buy them to put them in storage. When it becomes necessary, we will use the S-400,” said Erdoğan. “What are we going to do if we don’t use the defence system – are we going to rely on the United States?”
The purchase of the S-400s has been a major point of contention between Turkey and its NATO allies, who see the purchase of a Russian-built missile system by the alliance’s second largest military as a danger to NATO countries’ defence interoperability.
Some commentators have speculated that Erdoğan is buying the Russian systems as a safeguard in case of a repeat of the failed July 2016 coup attempt. On that occasion, six F-16 jets were under the control of coup plotters, including two that came dangerously close to the president’s own aircraft.
A bill making its way through U.S. Congress has taken up the S-400 case, calling for sanctions for the purchase and recommending that the sale and transfer of the new generation F-35 fighter jets to Turkey are halted until congressional committees prepare a plan on removing the country the F-35 programme.
Erdoğan responded to the talk around halting the delivery of the F-35 jets, saying the United States would be obliged to deliver the jets since Turkey had already paid $800 million for them.
The first of 100 or more F-35 jets are due to be handed over to Turkish pilots in a ceremony in the United States on Jun. 21.