Turkey might not need Russian S-400 batteries in order to protect itself as its homegrown equipment increasingly takes on that role, a major Turkish manufacturer told Bloomberg in remarks likely to be welcomed by Washington.
The chairman of defense equipment manufacturer Aselsan Elektronik Sanayi said Turkey was working to develop its own Siper missile-defense system which has hit targets at a range of 100 kilometers (60 miles) in tests.
“We are making air defense systems. We don’t need S-300s, S-400s,” Haluk Göegün told Milliyet newspaper in comments published Tuesday. “We are eliminating the need for them. This is our duty.”
The US sanctioned Turkey and barred it from working on and receiving Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 stealth jets after it acquired S-400 missiles from Russia in 2019. Ankara has been urging the US to scrap the sanctions and for Congress to approve the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.
Aselsan is involved in most of Turkey’s ambitious defense industry projects, which range from drones to fighter jets to warships. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking an increasingly assertive foreign policy backed with homegrown military power.
Ankara has complained for years about being unable to secure defense equipment from Western partners. This includes missile-defense systems as well as tank engines, warplanes, drones and helicopters.
The Biden administration has supported the sale of F-16s, seeing the transaction as important for NATO interoperability and US national interests, but hurdles remain.