Joint production talks may stall Turkey’s second batch of S-400s – defence industries chief

Turkey’s second shipment of Russian-built S-400 air defence missiles could be delayed by talks over joint production and technology sharing, the head of Turkish Defence Industries told pro-government news channel NTV on Monday.

The purchase of the S-400s in Turkey opened a gulf between Turkey and the United States, which views the presence of Russian systems in a NATO ally as potentially exposing the alliance to security risks.

The United States removed Turkey from the programme to build F-35 fighter jets after the first shipment of S-400s arrived in Turkey in July, and is still working to persuade Ankara to walk away from the deal with Moscow.

But talks have been ongoing with Russia over the purchase of a second shipment of S-400s, and last month Russia’s defence exports chief Alexander Mikheyev said discussions over localisation had reached their final stage.

With no agreement yet reached, Turkish Defence Industries President İsmail Demir told NTV the arrival of the second batch could be delayed past the 2020 timelines laid out by Turkey.

“The joint production concept may move the timeline. We have some sensitivities regarding some of the production being here. Technical work continues,” he said.

Demir added that Turkey had received an offer from Russia over the sale of Su-35 fighter jets and was evaluating its “financial and strategic aspects”, but was not close to any decision.

“It would not be right to say the F-35 era is over and the era of the Su-35s is opening,” Demir said.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar last week denied plans to buy the Russian jets and stressed his country’s determination to receive the aircraft it had ordered while it was part of the F-35 fighter jet programme.