October 26, 2018 / 09:48 AM
Russian S-400 setup in Turkey to start in October 2019

Installation of a Russian-bought missile defense system in Turkey will begin a year from now, in October 2019, according to the Turkish defense minister.

 “As of October 2019, installation operations will begin” for the Russian S-400 system, Hulusi Akar told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

 “Currently, we are in process of selecting personnel.”

 “The selected personnel will be sent for training in Russia from the beginning of 2019,” Akar said. “They will get the necessary training there and then they will come back for duty.”

Last December, Turkey announced it had concluded an agreement with Russia to buy two S-400 systems by early 2020. This April both parties agreed on early delivery of the systems.

The S-400 is Russia's most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system, with the ability to carry three types of missiles capable of destroying targets, including ballistic and cruise missiles.

Akar gave no details about where the Russian system will be established, saying the decision is still ongoing by the Turkish Air Forces Command.

In June, the U.S. Senate passed a bill prohibiting sales to Turkey of F-35 jets, citing the S-400 purchase as well as Turkey’s detention of U.S. citizens.

Saying that the anti-aircraft missile system will be used independently from NATO systems, Akar said: “We find U.S. and NATO concerns [about the S-400] irrelevant.”

 “We never allow any interference in U.S. or NATO systems,” he said, adding “this was not a matter of preference [but] it was a necessity.”

Akar said that Turkey wants to also be a producer, not just a buyer, of these systems, stressing that it will continue working on projects that incorporate Turkish collaboration in production.

Reporter’s code: 50101