New S-400 deal with Russia ‘very close’ – Turkish official

The head of Turkey’s defence industries has said a deal with Moscow to buy a second consignment of S-400 missile defence systems is very close, Reuters reported on Friday.

Talks on technology transfers and joint production on the second batch have continued, and a deal could be struck by April when the first batch of S-400s is due to go online, İsmail Demir, the head of the Turkish Defence Industry Directorate, told journalists.

Turkey received its first shipment of S-400s in July, prompting Washington to suspend it from the F-35 fighter jet programme, halt its order of 100 of the new-generation jets, and begin procedures to sanction the country under 2017 legislation designed to discourage countries from arms deals with Russia.

U.S. officials say the presence of Russian systems on NATO-allied territory could leave the jets open to subterfuge. Ankara denies this and says the purchase was necessary since a deal to buy Patriot systems from the United States fell through.

Turkey is still interested in buying the Patriots, Demir said, though new bills to sanction Turkey that are making their way through the U.S. Congress may make this impossible.