Three cargo aircraft carrying components of Russian S-400 missile defence systems arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara Friday, said Turkey's national defence minister. "Three planes were planned for today. As planned, all the aircraft arrived and all activities planned for today have been completed. This process will continue in the coming days," Anadulo news agency quoted Hulusi Akar as telling reporters. Stressing the threats facing Turkey, Akar pointed to the country's longstanding efforts to acquire long-range air and missile defence systems.
S-400 missile defence system being unloaded
"There are some principles that we have set in this regard. In line with these principles, we have had negotiations with China, Russia, the US, and France. These negotiations showed us that Russia is the most compatible country," Akar said. Telling how the contract to purchase the S-400s from Russia was signed in April 2017, Akar said three aircraft had carried components of the systems to Murted Air Base in Ankara. "The training of our personnel for installing and operating the Russian S-400s has been ongoing in both Turkey and Russia," said Akar, adding that the process would continue in the coming days. Possible procurement of US Patriot missiles is also being evaluated by Turkish officials and institutions, Akar said. The 2017 contract with Russia followed lengthy efforts to purchase an air defence system from the US with no success. Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu has confirmed that deployment of the S-400 Russian missile hardware is going as planned without any problem. In a joint press conference with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis held in Ankara Friday, Casvusoglu said: "The deal is done and is going as planned, and we are organising everything related to the receiving process," as he responded to a question on the arrival of the first deployment of the S-400. "There are no issues in the process of receiving the hardware and will continue so in the future," he added. In the first comments from Washington, acting Defence Secretary Mark Esper said the US position on the issue has not changed. The United States has threatened to impose sanctions on Ankara, saying Russian military hardware is not compatible with Nato systems and that the acquisition may lead to Turkey's expulsion from an F-35 fighter jet programme. Turkish broadcasters showed footage of huge Russian Air Force AN-124 cargo planes offloading equipment at the air base. Turkey says the system is a strategic defence requirement, particularly to secure its southern borders with Syria and Iraq. It says that when it made the deal with Russia for the S-400s, the United States and Europe had not presented a viable alternative. President Tayyip Erdogan said after meeting President Donald Trump at a G20 summit last month that the United States did not plan to impose sanctions on Ankara for buying the S-400s. Trump said Turkey had not been treated fairly but did not rule out sanctions, and US officials said last week the administration still plans to act.