Turkey will keep any sensitive information it has related to the S-400 air defence system safe, Defence Industries president* Ismail Demir has said.
“Russia has expressed concern about the [safety] of data about the S-400, and Turkey promises to protect this information,” Demir said, speaking at a recent panel discussion, as quoted by Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper.
The Turkish government’s decision to purchase S-400s in late 2017 caused a major cooling in Turkish-US relations, with Washington ultimately booting Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program and canceling the delivery of dozens of the fifth-generation fighter jets to the country. Last week, US lawmakers urged Pentagon chief Mark Esper to speed up the pace at which Turkey is removed from the F-35’s supply chain, and expressed support for sanctions against Washington’s NATO ally under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
On Wednesday, the US State Department included the Turkstream pipeline to its list of potential CAATSA targets.
In late June, Republican Senator John Thune proposed buying out Turkey’s S-400s to enable President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to get “out of the jam he put himself in” by buying the systems in the first place.
Omer Celik, press secretary of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, responded to Thune’s suggestion by stressing that Turkey would be the S-400s’ “final user,” and that Ankara had no legal grounds to resell the systems to any third country.
Turkey reportedly resumed testing of its S-400 air defence systems against its US-made F-16 and F-4 fighter jets at the Murted Air Base outside Ankara earlier this month, proceeding despite warnings from Washington that it could lead to new sanctions.
First introduced into service with the Russian military in the mid-2000s, the S-400 is Russia’s most advanced road-mobile air defence platform, and designed to shoot down everything from aircraft and drones to ballistic and cruise missiles. Along with Turkey, Russia has exported the system to China and Belarus, and has signed a $5.5 billion contract to deliver four regiments of S-400s to India.
* The presidency of Defence Industry is a government post aimed at managing and coordinating Turkey's defence industries, and supplying them with military technology.