The Turkish leadership has indicated that Ankara is interested in purchasing the S-400 Triumf, one of the most advanced air defense systems designed and manufactured in Russia. Both nations stand to gain from the deal if it is finalized.
Defense analyst Mikhail Khodoryonok detailed how Moscow will benefit from the purchase.
"The buyer will become attached to the country producing the weapon due to maintenance and professional training. Close military and technical cooperation will not allow Turkey to make aggressive political maneuvers against Russia. In addition, the purchase made by a NATO member will enhance the image of the Russian defense industry. It's hard to come up with a better ad," he told RIA Novosti.
The issue is said to have been on the agenda of the March 2014 meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. On March 14, Sergey Chemezov, CEO of the state-owned Russian corporation Rostec, confirmed that Ankara is willing to buy the S-400 if Moscow provides a loan.
Turkey will win from buying the S-400 Triumf since the country does not have a long-range anti-aircraft weapons system. Andrei Frolov, the editor-in-chief of Arms Export magazine, told RIA Novosti that Ankara is interested in enhancing its air defenses to protect itself from neighboring countries.
"Iran is Turkey's key opponent in the region. The Islamic Republic has a rather potent air force. At the same time, Iran is capable of protecting its territory from a retaliatory strike. Last year, Russia delivered four S-300PMU2 battalions to the country," he explained. "In addition, Ankara's relations with Damascus are tense to put it mildly. The Syrian government has long-range tactical missiles and short-range missiles, while Turkey's air defense systems are notoriously weak."
Although Turkey would benefit from adding the S-400 to its arsenal, Frolov expressed doubt that the deal would actually take place.
"Erdogan is more likely trying to pressure his partners in NATO by making these statements. He is essentially trying to blackmail them into selling European and American air defense systems under favorable terms," the defense analyst said.
Frolov pointed out that Turkey would encounter certain challenges if it indeed buys the S-400. Firstly, other NATO members, most notably the United States, will not be happy with the deal, taking into account that Ankara's relations with its Western partners have been strained in recent years. Secondly, it will not be easy to integrate the S-400 into NATO's air defense system. In addition, even if Turkey reaches a deal with Russia, the actual delivery won't take place earlier than 2020-2022.
The S-400 Triumf, which NATO refers to as the SA-21 Growler, was developed by the Almaz-Antey defense contractor and manufactured by the Fakel Machine-Building Design Bureau. The system is capable of intercepting all types of modern air weaponry, including fifth-generation warplanes, as well as ballistic and cruise missiles at a maximum range of nearly 250 miles.