Russia has agreed to sell Turkey the S-400 air defense system for $2.5 bn, despite criticism and warnings from other countries.
“They have gone crazy because we made a deal for S-400s,” Erdoğan said Wednesday in a speech to the ruling AKP mayors in Ankara.
Earlier on Tuesday both Ankara and Moscow confirmed that the contract of supply to Turkey of Russian-made S-400 air defense systems has progressed after Turkey paid a first installment under the deal. The Pentagon reiterated its concerns over the deal, which, it says, undermines inter-operability of weapons systems among NATO allies.
“We have relayed our concerns to Turkish officials regarding the potential purchase of the S-400. A NATO inter-operable missile defense system remains the best option to defend Turkey from the full range of threats in its region,” spokesman Johnny Michael said in a statement.
According to reports in the Russian media, Turkey is to get four batteries of S-400 launchers complete with targeting radar and control posts. Some aspects of the deal are reportedly to be finalized, but Russian officials said the contract furthers Russia’s geostrategic interests.
Turkey has been weighing options for acquiring long-range SAMs for years. In 2013, Ankara surprised other NATO members by announcing that it was going to purchase the FD-2000 system from China, sparking criticism from Washington. Defense observers speculated that Turkey played the China card to put pressure on its allies and get better terms for buying a NATO-compatible SAM system, such as the US-made Patriot PAC-3.
Russia says the S-400 system has a range of 400km (248 miles) and can shoot down up to 80 targets simultaneously, aiming two missiles at each one. Russia deployed the S-400 at its air force base near Latakia in Syria in December 2015, after Turkish jets had shot down a Russian Su-24 warplane on the Syria-Turkey border.
That incident caused a diplomatic rift between Russia and Turkey, but President Erdogan later patched up his quarrel with President Vladimir Putin.