There are a number of reasons for Turkey to prefer the S-400 to the US Patriot system: It’s more capable, it’s about half the price, and it gives Erdoğan yet another opportunity to play the Turkish nationalism card to his advangage.
The US defense establishment has completely lost their sh%$ over this, claiming that it is a security issue, though there is nothing about the F-35 that an S-400 in Istambul could get that an S-400 in Kaliningrad would not.
My conclusion has always been that the Pentagon and its web of contractors are upset because they cannot get their fingers into these pies.
It’s not even the first NATO nation to use a Russian SAM system, Greece has been operating the S-300 for over a decade.
So the US has been threatening sanctions, including withdrawal of F-35 sales to Turkey, while Turkey has insisted that it would take shipment of the systems.
Well, Turkey has now begun to receive the shipments of the system, so, as the saying goes, “It is on.”
I do not see either side backing down:
Turkey has begun taking delivery of Russia’s S-400 air defense system, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Friday, completing a deal that has threatened its standing in NATO and is likely to trigger sanctions from the United States.
The first components for the system arrived Friday at Murted Air Base in Ankara, the Turkish capital, the ministry said in a statement. Turkish television stations broadcast footage of the delivery throughout the morning as Russian cargo planes arrived at the base and equipment was offloaded.
The purchase underscored President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasing willingness to coordinate with Russia and risked a new crisis in relations between Turkey and the United States. Although U.S. law mandates sanctions against countries making “significant” deals with the Russian defense industry, the Trump administration has given mixed signals about how exactly it might respond if Turkey went through with the purchase.
A basket of measures listed under legislation passed in 2017 — from which the administration is required to select at least five — includes economic sanctions, revocation of visas and prohibition of all Turkish procurement of U.S. defense equipment.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out.