Turkish newspaper marvels at S-400 missiles after Russia visit

A Turkish journalist has published an effusive report on the Russian missile defence systems at the heart of the recent rift in U.S.-Turkish relations, declaring them superior to the U.S.-built alternative.

Nerdun Hacıoğlu, a journalist working for Turkey’s pro-government daily Hürriyet, on Wednesday detailed the features of the S-400 missile systems Turkey purchased from Russia for Turkish readers after a visit to Kubinka polygon in Moscow.

Turkey is expected to receive the first S-400 missile system in 10 days, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week. The first S-400 batteries will be deployed to Ankara, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Wednesday. 

The U.S. Congress is expected to level sanctions at Turkey for the purchase of Russian systems, which U.S. military officials count as a security threat to NATO-built defence systems.

Hacıoğlu said he had visited Moscow ahead of the delivery and inspected a missile system that had been manufactured so recently that he could “smell the fresh paint on it”. 

Russian authorities allowed Hacıoğlu to take photos of the S-400s’ launching pad when they learned that he was on a press visit from Turkey, the journalist said. 

“The missile system you are looking at is the equivalent of the air defence system we sold to Turkey and will be delivered in a short time,” Hacıoğlu quoted a Russian major as saying during his visit to Kubinka. 

The journalist said that the S-400 batteries, known as the "Triumf" in Russia and better known to NATO as the SA-21 "Growler”, were superior, by Russian defence industry experts’ reckoning, to U.S.-made Patriots. 

The secret of the S-400s’ success lies in their 600-km range radar and mechanism for vertical launch, Hacıoğlu said.

While the S-400 launching pads can be installed in a 10-metre wide street, the Patriots launch at a 45-degree angle and thus require an empty space as large as a football field to deploy, he said.