The Turkish Defense Ministry has denied media reports suggesting that batteries of an air defense system Turkey bought from Russia despite Washington’s objections have been moved to İncirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, where US troops are deployed, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“These statements are completely untrue,” a ministry official who requested anonymity told Anadolu about the relevant media reports.
Turkish military officials, speaking to the pro-government Daily Sabah, also denied a similar report from Sky News Arabia that the S-400 missile defense system was moved to İncirlik Air Base.
Earlier, Sky News Arabia had claimed that “Turkey brought S-400 batteries to Incirlik base used by the United States and NATO forces” in a tweet, citing a US Department of Defense official.
Despite warnings from the United States and other NATO allies, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brokered a deal worth $2.5 billion with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the S-400 missile system in 2017.
Turkey started taking delivery of the first S-400s in July 2019 despite Washington’s warnings and the threat of US sanctions. In response, Washington removed Turkey from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, in which Ankara was a manufacturer and a buyer. Turkey has not yet used the missile system since its purchase two years ago.
The S-400, a mobile surface-to-air missile system, could pose a risk to the NATO alliance as well as to the F-35, America’s most expensive weapons platform, according to Turkey’s Western allies.
Washington imposed sanctions in December on Turkey’s military procurement agency for its purchase of the system under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, which mandates penalties for transactions deemed harmful to US interests.
Turkey’s Presidency of the Defense Industry (SSB), its chief İsmail Demir and three other officials were targeted by the sanctions, which include a ban on all US export licenses and authorizations to SSB as well as asset freezes and visa restrictions on Demir and the other individuals.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced on Monday Turkey has not given up its plans to use its S-400 missile defense system where necessary.
“There is no change in our attitude [regarding the S-400s]. They will be deployed where necessary,” ministry official Maj. Pınar Kara said at a news conference in Ankara.