Revealed: Russian S-400s Already Operational In Turkey, Satellite Images Confirm

Early last week Turkey announced the start of a second round of S-400 component deliveries from Russia at a moment Turkish President Erdogan met with Putin in Moscow to hold talks on Syria developments. But it already appears the first batch  delivered in July at Mürted Air Base near Ankara — has gone operational, new satellite images reveal. 

Leading commercial satellite imaging site ImageSat International announced Tuesday that “for the first time observed, the recently arrived from Russia to Turkey S400 is in operational mode and deployed in Ankara.” 

ImageSat noted that according to the newly published images the system’s launchers are not yet loaded, yet “the radars are stationed and deployed”. 

“It is probably that some of the observed was arrived in Ankara by Russia in the second shipment, after the first shipment occurred on July 2019,” according to the analysis. 

There’s a likelihood the current site observed is a “trial and test” deployment, but could also become the permanent operational site, according to ImageSat. 

Turkish media reports suggest the second batch of deliveries for the advanced Russian air defense system will be complete within several weeks; the S-400s are expected to be fully deployed and operational across Turkey by April 2020. 

Most importantly, what the now confirmed hasty deployment of the first S-400 system in Ankara confirms is that Erdogan has been completely unfazed by recent threatened US sanctions and the cancellation of Turkey’s participation in the US F-35 program.

File photo: Russian S-400s in Syria. Source: Russian Defense Ministry

With about 100 Lockheed F-35 jets hanging in the balance, which Washington could permanently block, it’s clear Turkey is not looking back

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Turkey will receive the second batch of the Russian S-400 missile system on Tuesday, its defence minister Hulusi Akar has said. Ankara received its first supply of S-400 missiles in July, despite warning by the United States about possible sanctions. Acquisition of the highly advanced air defence system has led to a standoff between the Turkey and its NATO allies, especially the US. Deliveries of the system are set to continue until April 2020.

Turkey and the United States have agreed to launch the first phase of putting in place a safe zone in northern Syria after months of dispute over the depth of the zone and who would control it.

With few other options at its disposal, Washington has been forced to threaten to withhold deliveries of F-35 fighters to Turkey in retaliation for Ankara’s purchase of a batch of Russian-made S-400 anti-air missiles.

NATO said Friday it was “concerned” by Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system after Ankara took delivery of its first batch, AFP reported.

Today first parts of the Russian S-400 air defense systems arrived in Turkey. The Russian Ministry of Defense posted a video of the arrival on Facebook. The Turkish Ministry of Defense video showed the unloading of six support vehicles belong to a S-400 set. A complete S-400 set consists of two radars, a command post, eight launch vehicles with four missiles each, and various loader and other support vehicles. Turkey has ordered two complete sets for which it will pay about $2.5 billion.

First shipment of Russian S-400 missile defence system hardware to Ankara started today, Turkey’s National Defence Ministry said. “First batch of equipment of S-400 missile defence system, which is procured to meet Turkey’s air and missile defence need, has started to arrive at Murted Air Base in Ankara as of July 12, 2019,” the ministry said on Twitter.

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