Some Western countries have imposed a “covered embargo” on Turkey due to its military offensive into Syria, İsmail Demir, the head of the Defense Industries Directorate, has told daily Hürriyet.
“You have seen what kind of explanations came from various countries following ‘Operation Peace Spring.’ Even in a multinational project like the A400M, restrictions have been claimed. We’ve known for some time that there are some implicit restrictions,” Demir said.
“They did not officially recognize any sanctions, but Turkey has seen a slowdown in demands, the extension of deadlines, and attitude of rejection by some companies for the delivery of some equipment,” he said.
But this manner has helped Turkey to step up to replace this equipment with domestic production, Demir stated.
He was referring to the Airbus A400M military transport planes which were developed for seven European NATO nations: Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, and Turkey.
Elaborating on Turkey’s procurement of the Russian-made S-400 defense systems, Demir said that Ankara stipulated credit loan, joint production, and technology transfer in the purchase of two systems.
“These will be done. Then in the process of developing Turkey’s own system, the experience gained here will be used as well.”
“In this sense, the framework and dimensions of cooperation may extend and continue as this contact [with Russia] continues. It depends on compromise and attitude of the two sides,” he said.
Asked about media reports that Turkey tested its S-400 systems last week, Demir said, “Introducing the issue as a ‘test’ was a bit of an exaggeration.”
“Rather than ‘being tested,’ it was a part of the installation process,” he stressed.
“They have an installation phase. When you reach a certain installation level, you need to open something, a radar… This installation process has a normal step and mechanism in itself. This mechanism is now working,” Demir stated.
The official noted that the U.S. has not made a new proposal for a possible procurement of Turkey on Patriot systems.
Turkey needs more than four air defense systems if its entire airspace will be under protection, according to Demir.
“Our first tender was for four systems. If we want to cover Turkey entirely with a high-altitude long-range air defense system, in fact, we may need more than four,” he said.
Ankara will consider if the U.S. makes a “reasonable” offer for its Patriots, he added.
Demir also noted that Russia’s SU-35 warplanes proposal is at a very early stage, and Turkey is still evaluating the issue. He underlined that the SU-35 jets are not similar to the F-35 fighter jets and they cannot replace each other.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s presidential administration has said that the purchase date for more S-400 missile systems from Russia is just a technicality and that it thinks a deal will happen before too long, the RIA news agency reported on Dec. 2.
Moscow hopes to seal a deal to supply Turkey with more S-400 missile systems in the first half of next year, the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said last month.
“The date of the purchase of the second set of S-400s is just a technical question. I think it will happen before too long,” RIA cited a security and foreign affairs official in the Turkish presidential administration as saying.
Rosoboronexport’s general director Alexander Mikheev told RIA news agency on Nov. 26 that Moscow and Ankara were actively discussing Ankara taking up an option in the original contract for it to receive more S-400 systems, with talks focused on financial questions.
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