Turkey has signed an agreement with Russia on the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defense systems. According to the Turkish press, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the country has already made an advance payment under the agreement.
The total amount of the purchase is estimated at $2.5 billion, Radjo Liberty reports. Russia confirmed that the contract was signed and "is getting ready for implementation."
The NATO alliance, where Turkey is a member, reported that they received information about this purchase. Member countries decide for themselves which military equipment to buy, but for NATO it is important that all the equipment of these countries is capable of interoperation, said an unnamed official and added that so far no member of NATO has had S-400 systems in service.
The US commented earlier on the first reports on the forthcoming contract, saying that Turkey's purchase of arms from Russia would create concerns in Washington. The Pentagon also said that for the NATO member states "in general it makes sense" to buy mutually compatible military equipment.
Russia claims that its S-400 surface-to-air missile system, a modification of the older S-300PM, has a range of 400 kilometers and is capable of simultaneously tracking up to 80 targets. It was deployed in the west of Syria in late 2015 after Turkish aircraft shot down a Russian aircraft on the Turkish-Syrian border.
This system was not used by Russia to protect Assad’s forces when the United States, after a chemical attack by Syrian government aircraft at the civilian population, carried out missile strikes at the Syrian government air base.
Russia’s reluctance to use the system at the time could have been due to the political decision to refrain from additional confrontation with the United States. It is also possible that they system lacks the practical, technical ability to shoot down these missiles, contrary to Moscow's statement that the "Syrian sky is fully covered."