Moscow is ready to discuss the prospects for the joint production of S-400 Triumph air defense with the Turkish side. This was stated by the head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) of the Russian Federation Dmitry Shugaev on the Turkish television channel Ekoturk.

“In the future, we are ready to explore the possibility of technological cooperation. That is, the participation of Turkish companies in the production process, ”said Shugaev, explaining that such negotiations are already underway.

However, this process takes time and is time consuming, he added.

“It is obvious that this format of cooperation presupposes a certain new stage of interaction - a more complex, trusting one, in which it is important to find a balance of observance of our interests,” Interfax news agency quotes him.

  • Head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) of the Russian Federation Dmitry Shugaev
  • RIA News
  • © Sergey Mamontov

These statements were made in the context of discussing the prospects of the second delivery of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system in Turkey. According to Shugaev, negotiations are now at an advanced stage, the final decision of the Turkish leadership on this issue is expected.

The fact that Ankara can take part in the production of S-400 air defense systems, the head of the FSVTS mentioned earlier, in March 2020. Speaking about the possibility of additional supply of air defense systems to the Turkish side, Shugaev explained that the option implies “certain participation” of Turkey in production.

Geography of purchases

Recall that the first deal to supply Turkey with Russian S-400 air defense systems was signed by Moscow and Ankara in April 2017. The contract provided for the transfer to the Turkish side of four air defense divisions with a total value of $ 2.5 billion. 45% of this amount, Turkey paid in advance, the rest of the funds paid by the Turkish side on credit. Already in the fall of 2019, all components of the air defense systems were delivered by the Turkish military.

In early May 2020, the head of the Turkish defense industry secretariat, Ismail Demir, told reporters that the deployment of S-400 air defense systems acquired from Russia in Turkey was ongoing.

“The installation of the S-400 continues, certain elements have already been put into operation,” the Turkish official said.

He added that although the contract implies training and technical support from the Russian side, Russian employees do not have full access to S-400 air defense batteries delivered to Turkey.

It should be recalled that Turkey is a member country of the North Atlantic Alliance and its cooperation with Russia in the defense-technical sphere has long been irritating the American leadership.

Washington has repeatedly threatened Ankara with sanctions for the purchase of Russian air defense systems. The American side believes that through the deployed S-400, Moscow will be able to gain access to the technical characteristics of the latest NATO aircraft. A key measure taken by the United States in relation to Turkey was the exclusion of the Turkish side from the F-35 aircraft construction program.

As Jim Rish, head of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated in the fall of 2019, Ankara “does not see” F-35 deliveries while Russian air defense systems are deployed in Turkey.

  • F-35 Lightning II
  • © US Air Force

Tensionreached such a level that in December 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan even threatened to block access to the Inzherlik military base located in Turkey for the American military. 

The misunderstanding between Ankara and Washington remains. In mid-May 2020, US Special Representative for Syria and one of the leading American experts in relations with Turkey, James Jeffrey, said that it was the issue of the acquisition by the Turkish side of the Russian air defense systems that was the main problem in US-Turkish relations. 

Military expert Alexei Leonkov believes that the supply of American military equipment usually has a pronounced political background.

“The United States is ready to supply weapons to those states that are loyal to them. Turkey has long been the southern outpost of the NATO bloc. But as soon as there was some cooling in relations between Ankara and Washington, defense contracts immediately began to suffer, and the Turkish leadership was faced with the threat of sanctions, ”the expert recalled in an interview with RT.

As a military expert, senior researcher at the HSE, Vasily Kashin, noted in an RT commentary, Ankara’s decision on the S-400 air defense system reinforces the multi-vector orientation of its foreign policy.

“Now Turkey from Washington’s military-political partner is finally turning into an independent player, independent of the American foreign policy line. The acquisition of high-tech weapons always creates strong long-lasting relationships between the supplier and the buyer due to the need for maintenance and modernization. The geography of such purchases is always closely tied to politics, ”the expert emphasized in a commentary on RT.

  • SAM S-400
  • RIA News
  • © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

The Turkish leadership is not only not ready to abandon already acquired weapons, but, on the contrary, intends to develop relations with Russia in the field of military-technical cooperation. In July 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he plans to establish a joint production of air defense systems with Russia.

“We were told that we would not be able to purchase Russian air defense systems, however, the eighth aircraft with S-400 elements landed in Ankara today. The process will end in April 2020. Now our goal is joint production with Russia, ”the Turkish leader said then.

It should be noted that in recent years, Turkey has been making active efforts to develop its own defense industry and import substitution of foreign supplies.

Defense alliance

According to experts, Ankara’s desire to join the defense industry together with Moscow is part of the course towards the development of the Turkish defense industry.

An important achievement of the Turkish military-industrial complex was the creation of its own strike UAV. Already in 2015, such devices began to be delivered to the Turkish army. In May 2017, the Turkish military tested another unmanned vehicle - Anka-S, designed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). The machine is capable of carrying ammunition weighing 200 kg, the flight range of the apparatus is 200 km.

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  • Reuters
  • © Umit Bektas

Now Turkish designers are working on another Akinci shock drone, capable of carrying a payload of up to 1350 kg and be in flight for up to a day. Engines for the drone are manufactured at the Ukrainian enterprise Ivchenko-Progress (Zaporozhye).

Turkey has also developed the production of civilian small arms; the country is actively exporting such products. In 2014, MKEK also created its own MPT-76 assault rifle (Milli Piyade Tufegi, the national infantry rifle). Previously, the Turkish army was supplied with small arms manufactured under foreign licenses and technologies.

However, in the matter of creating such high-tech military equipment as the latest tank or fifth-generation fighter, Turkey has not yet been able to advance too far, although such projects were initiated by the leadership of the republic.

Nevertheless, Turkey has the technological basis for cooperation on the production of S-400. This opinion is shared by Alexei Leonkov.

“Another question is the qualification of this technical base, whether it meets the requirements that Russia makes when creating military equipment. This is precisely one of the subjects of negotiations, so that the technologies are interfaced, ”the expert noted.

According to Vasily Kashin, the Turkish side, for example, can produce ammunition for the complex, repair individual electronic components and do other work.

“The term“ joint production ”may conceal a completely different level of technology transfer and the level of localization of these products. Moreover, the fact that Turkey is in the NATO bloc will not create obstacles for such cooperation, ”the expert is sure.

As explained by Vasily Kashin, a partial transfer of technology was originally laid down as one of the conditions of the transaction. This condition does not contain any "pitfalls" for the Russian side.

“A deep technical analysis will be made as to which elements of the complex can be transferred to Turkey and which not. In addition, usually such systems in the export configuration have some differences from those that are in service with the Russian armed forces. In the framework of joint production, it is quite possible to take into account all risks and minimize them, ”the expert noted.

At the same time, this cooperation is beneficial to Russia both from the economic and political points of view, Vasily Kashin is sure.

A similar opinion is shared by Alexei Leonkov.

“Export versions of Russian equipment in their tactical and technical characteristics differ from the equipment that is supplied to the Russian armed forces, so joint production will not mean the transfer of its own technologies. But the volume of Russian defense exports will be increased, ”the expert summed up.