Turkish defence official says S-400 testing exaggerated

Presenting the flights that were made as part of the setup process of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems was a slight exaggeration, Turkish Defence Industry Director İsmail Demir told reporters on Monday.

Demir said the steps and mechanism of the setting up process for the S-400 missile defence systems is underway. “Nobody said it wouldn’t be, if this is going to be ready to be used by April, which the state has declared at every level (that it will),” Demir added.

Turkey had several parameters, namely financing, technology transfer and joint manufacturing, Demir said. “And it is natural that Turkey will use the experience obtained here at a later time when developing its own system,” he continued.

Turkey told the United States that it will consider an offer for the purchase of Patriot air defence systems, should such an offer be made, Demir said.

According to the defence industry director, Turkey may need four or more units to cover all of Turkey with long-range high-altitude air defence systems.

Following rising tensions due to Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s, which the United States called incompatible with NATO systems and a security risk, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said in August that he discussed buying Patriot batteries with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

Turkey is still waiting for the export permit from the United States regarding the sale of Turkish-made T129 ATAK helicopter gunships to Pakistan, Demir said.

“At this moment, we can’t say that there is a deliberate delay. The process takes time in itself,” Demir said.

Turkey and Pakistan had signed a $ 1.5 billion deal for the ATAK attack helicopters in 2018, but delivery was delayed after the United States refused to issue an export licence for the engine used in the project.

Turkey is working on developing a motor of its own, Demir said.

Erdoğan had said in September that Turkey was aiming to build its own fighter jet in order to become self-sufficient in terms of defence needs by 2023.

As Turkey continues to work on developing a proprietary jet engine, the national combat aircraft (MMU) project will be ready to fly by 2023 with an existing, imported engine, Demir said.

It is not probable that a Turkish-made engine will be ready to be used by 2023, but the defence industry directorate expects its integration and ability to use in the Turkish army’s fleet by 2029, he added.

Turkey has been considering buying Russian-made SU-35 jets, with efforts accelerating after the country was removed by the United States from the F-35 fighter jet programme.

The United States removed Turkey from the programme after Turkey received the first S-400 delivery.

“Apart from the number 35, the SU-35 and F-35 don’t have much in common,” Demir said, adding that the jets could not be alternatives to one another.

Demir said Russia made an offer for the SU-35s, and that Turkey was considering it. “It is not right to create the perception as if we said we liked the offer and were buying.”

Despite no official embargos, Turkey has faced delays and slowed deliveries after its military incursion into Syria, Demir said.


“All the [attitude Turkey faced] was beneficial in the long term,” Demir continued. “When we saw our foreign-dependence in several detail products for various sub-components, we were able to immediate take action to nationalise.”