On May 19, Turkey celebrated the centenary of Independence Day, which marks the beginning of Turkey’s War of Independence and the emergence of modern Turkey. It is the day when Mustafa Kemal, later to become Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, arrived in the Black Sea city of Samsun from Istanbul to organize the war that saw the remnants of the Ottoman Empire transformed into modern Turkey 4 years later.
In 2019, Turkey’s Independence Day came amid Ankara’s row with Washington over the sovereign decision to buy S-400 systems from Russia. This very decision triggered a histeria of the Washington administration.
On May 18, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the purchase of S-400 from Russia is a done deal despite the US opposition. The president also noted that Turkey will “sooner or later” get F-35s from the US, despite current delaying by the US side.
“They (the U.S.) are passing the ball around in the midfield now, showing some reluctance. But sooner or later, we will receive the F-35s. Not delivering them is not an option,” he said adding that Turkey will also jointly produce S-500 with Russia in the future.
Tensions between the US and Turkey were especially high during the past few months with Turkey set to begin receiving the advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile system from Russia. Washington threatened Turkey with sanctions and suggested it buy the US Patriot missile system rather than the S-400, arguing it is incompatible with NATO systems and is a threat to the F-35 fifth-generation stealth aircraft. It seems that these attempts failed.
The Russian-Turkey S-400 deal worths $2.5 billion for 4 S-400 battalions. According to the Turkish side, the dlivery of S-400 systems is set to start in October 2019. The S-400 is capable of eliminating aerodynamic targets in the range of up to 400km and ballistic targets in the range of up to 60km.
At the same time, Russia is finalizing its S-500 system, which is capable of intercepting targets in the rage of up to 480km. According to the Russian military, the delivery of S-500 systems to the army will start in 2020. If Turkey joins Russia in its efforts to finalize the system and to expand its capabilities even further, this would become a turning point for the international weapon market in this field. Turkey does have an advantage over Russia in some technologies, for example in the development of electronics, and has a large number of highly skilled developers and engineering personnel. This fact will only strengthen the Russian S-500 project in the event of the cooperation between the two states.