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Turkey to Develop Own Air Defense System

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Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said Thursday that his country, in collaboration with France and Italy, is working on joint production of air defense systems, as it seeks to manufacture its own equipment.

“Along with [Russian] S-400, we plan a joint [with France and Italy] elaboration of SAMP/T air defense systems. Thus, we will manage to address deficiencies in this field more fully. This project will make a significant contribution to the creation of a domestic air defense system,” Canikli was quoted by Anadolu Agency as saying at a press conference in Brussels.

Turkey, France and Italy signed a memorandum that provides for joint manufacturing and the deliveries of SAMP/T air and missile defense systems during NATO defense ministers on November 8-9.

About two months earlier, in September, Ankara had reached an agreement and signed a contract with Moscwo on the deliveries of Russia’s S-400 missile systems to Turkey, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying that Turkey had already made the first payment for the systems, which was also confirmed by Russian officials.

Nevertheless, Turkish officials have repeatedly stated that Ankara aims to develop a home-made air defense system, as they have been disappointed with the failed provision of such systems by their NATO allies, which prompted them to turn to Russia.

Analysts and experts are still speculating on whether Turkey will go ahead and complete the purchase of Russian systems, due to NATO opposition and pressure against such move.

Amidst deteriorating relations between two allies – the US and Turkey, both countries are seen by political observers as using the matter as a tool of manipulation. However, Turkish desire to develop own defense systems is understandable, considering its security challenges and the changing nature of alliances and current dramatic situation in the Middle East.