With less than months left for delivery of the Russian-made surface to air missile (SAM) S-400 system to Turkey, Turkish military personnel are currently in Russia, participating in training on how to use the Russian missile system, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said late Tuesday. "We've sent personnel to Russia for S-400 training that will begin in the coming days and will span the following months," Akar told a group of journalists. "We need to set up an air defense system to protect our 82 million people and our country," Akar said, stressing that Turkey was under threat of air and missile attacks from the Syrian borders.
Turkey's region abounds with ballistic missile proliferation and rogue weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, as well as increasing terror threats by groups in northern Syria, including Daesh and the People's Protection Units (YPG) – the latter being the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, a terrorist group designated as such by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU. In due consideration of regional and global developments that pose grave risks to its national security, Turkey decided to meet its need for an air defense system from Russia and inked a $2.5 billion deal with Moscow in December 2017 after the U.S. repeatedly rejected selling Patriot missiles to Turkey.
Known as Triumf at home and Growler abroad, the S-400 has become necessary for Turkey's defense system. It is an upgraded version of the S-300 missile systems. The S-400 uses four missiles to fill its performance envelope: The very-long-range 40N6 (400 kilometers), the long-range 48N6 (250 kilometers), the medium-range 9M96E2 (120 kilometers) and the short-range 9M96E (40 kilometers).
Noting that S-400 systems only have defense capabilities, Defense Minister Akar said "no one should be bothered" by their use by Turkey.
Akar said the U.S. was still trying to dissuade Turkey from purchasing the Russian-made missiles, but Ankara was determined to go through with the deal. "We tell them it's a 'done deal' but they keep telling us 'no deal is a done deal'," the minister added.
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