Turkey, Russia consider joint air defence development

Turkey and Russia are considering developing joint aviation and air defence systems, Dmitry Shugayev, head of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said.

“Our experts continue to discuss possible options for cooperation in the joint production of aircraft and air defence equipment. I’m sure that the potential of cooperation is not limited to this,” Shugayev told Ekotürk TV channel, according to a report in the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

Shugayev said that Moscow is expecting Ankara’s final decision on the delivery of the second battery of S-400 missile defence systems, adding that talks are in a “fairly advanced phase”.

Turkish presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said late in May that Turkey’s plans to activate the S-400 systems it acquired from Russia last year are still going ahead “in principle” despite a lengthy delay to their activation.

“Because of the COVID virus things have been delayed but in principle we are sticking to our agreement with the S-400 as before,” Kalın said during a televised interview with France 24.

The Turkish government has not explained why the coronavirus pandemic has caused a delay in the S-400 activation. Some observers have said that Turkey could be holding off on activating the missiles as it tries to mend ties with the United States.

The missile systems, which were due to be activated in April, have caused a rift between Turkey and its Western allies who say the missiles are not compatible with NATO defences.

Turkey faces potential U.S. sanctions over its purchase of the S-400s, and the United States suspended Turkey from the F-35 stealth fighter programme after it received its first shipment of S-400s in July 2019.