Turkey to activate Russian S-400 system, says defense minister

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Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. AFP PHOTOS

Turkey will activate as planned an S-400 missile defense system acquired from Russia once the relevant military personnel complete their training, the Turkish defense minister said on Thursday, rejected the advice of a US official not to do so.

Training of the military personnel to operate the missiles’ hardware was ongoing, Hulusi Akar told lawmakers in the Turkish parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission, according to the Hürriyet Daily News.

“After it is completed, we will activate our [S-400s] system.”

Turkey’s acquisition of the advanced Russian S-400 air-defense system prompted Washington to remove Turkey from the F-35 fifth-generation joint strike fighter program in July.

The US says the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified data on the jet and is incompatible with NATO systems.

Turkey, however, argues that the S-400 would neither be integrated into NATO systems nor pose a threat to the alliance.

Turkey needs to “get rid of” the Russian S-400 missile defense system it purchased, a senior State Department official said, to overcome a standoff with Washington, which says the procurement poses a threat to NATO defense capabilities, Reuters reported on Thursday.

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