0501 GMT November 22, 2019
The initial S-400 delivery will be made on two cargo planes departing from a Russian military air base on Sunday, privately-owned Haberturk TV reported Friday, adding that a Russian technical team tasked with overseeing the system’s installation is also due to arrive in Turkey by Monday, Presstv Reported.
This comes amid Washington’s threat that Turkey will be subjected to sanctions when the Russian air defense missile system ordered by Ankara are actually delivered to its NATO ally.
Turkey and the US have been at loggerheads over Ankara’s decision to purchase the S-400s, which Washington claims are not compatible with defenses of the NATO military alliance and would also compromise American F-35 fighter jets, which Turkey has purchased and also helps build.
This is while Washington has further begun the process of formally expelling Turkey from the program for developing F-35s, built by Lockheed Martin Corp.
Turkish President Reecep Tayyip Erdogan described US refusal to deliver the F-35 stealth fighters to Ankara as “robbery” in reported remarks he made Wednesday on a visit to China.
“If you have a customer and that customer is making payments like clockwork, how can you not give that customer their goods? The name of that would be robbery,” Erdogan was quoted by Turkey’s English-language Hurriyet Daily News as saying during a press briefing in China.
He was reportedly reacting to statements by US officials about Washington’s intent to impose sanctions on Ankara and remove it from an F-35 development program if Ankara does acquire the S-400 defense system.
The Turkish president further underlined that his country had so far paid 1.4 billion dollars for the F-35s and received four out of 116 jets, with Turkish pilots traveling to the United States for training.
“We have made an agreement to buy 116 F-35s. We are not just a market, we are also joint producers. We produce some of the parts in Turkey,” Erdogan added as quoted in the report.
Another report by US-based Bloomberg News said earlier in the week that Turkish military was stockpiling spare parts for US-made weapons – including parts for F-16 fighter jets and other military equipment -- as the bans loom large. It cited “two Turkish officials” for the report.