Cooperation with Turkey on missile defense systems – a way to reassure NATO allies ?

On Wednesday 8th November, Turkey signed a letter of intent with France and Italy to strengthen cooperation on joint defence projects including air and missile defence systems.

Addressing a meeting of NATO defence ministers, Nurettin Canikli, Turkey’s defence minister said projects covered under the letter could help cooperating countries develop “top » systems for defending against lone missiles — such as a SAMP-T-based system — as well as address Turkey’s current gaps in missile defence.

NATO members Turkey, France and Italy would strengthen cooperation on joint production of military electronic systems, software and simulation systems and warfare equipment, as well as air and missile defence systems.

Turkey also signed a letter of intent with Spain on developing defence industry cooperation including joint work to develop a landing platform dock. The agreement envisages further relations in all sectors of the defence industry including land, air and maritime systems as well as research and development.

 

Cooperation between NATO allies welcomed by NATO chief

Although Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles has been completed last week end (11th November), NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged at a meeting of defence ministers in Brussels that this new project of contract is an example of cooperation between NATO allies on developing air defence systems, that will greatly help develop interoperability.

We welcome always when NATO allies are working together to develop different capabilities, and I think that this kind of cooperation is the best way also to make sure that we have the capabilities different nations need and is also a good way to make sure that when we have new capabilities they can be fully integrated into NATO air defence systems, Stoltenberg said.

 

Decision to buy Russian: a political reason?

The decision by Turkey to buy the S-400s has been seen by NATO allies as a provocation to the alliance, which cannot integrate the weapons into NATO defences. Last September a Pentagon spokesman criticised the procurement decision, saying that, « generally it’s a good idea » for members of NATO to buy inter-operable equipment.

However according to Ahmet Berat Conkar, head of the Turkish delegation to NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the purchase of the S-400 anti-aircraft missiles was based on technical and financial reasons, and not on political reasons. He does not believe that this purchase would affect the cooperation with other allies – especially that Turkey will now work with France and Italy.

 Turkey’s picked S-400 over other options because the missile system possesses more advanced technical features than its rivals, with a better price and shorter delivery time. » He told Al Jazeera that « This development openly reveals that Turkey will work with its allies to develop such systems in the middle and long term. However, it needs the S-400 system for its immediate defence

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