Israeli satellite intelligence company ImageSat International has released satellite images of an alleged S-400 air defence system that recently arrived in Turkey from Russia. The firm claimed it is in operational mode and has been deployed in Ankara.
The images, posted on the company's Twitter account, show what the company describes as the deployed S-400 launch components and radars. However, as ImageSat International claims, the launchers are not loaded. It suggests that the components arrived in the second shipment from Russia, following the first delivery in July 2019.
According to the company, the current stationing is a test, so the alleged S-400 systems could be redeployed to a permanent site.
“However, we cannot rule out the option of this location being a permanent site”, its assessment concludes.
However, Ismail Demir, the Turkish undersecretary for Defense Industries, revealed today that Russia's S-400 systems will be prepared for use by June 2020.
"Turkey is no longer a client but a partner ... We are against purely purchasing [Russian weapons], we want to engage in production," he said.
The second stage of deliveries of the S-400 air defence systems has begun, the Turkish Defence Ministry stated on 27 August, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan noting that it would continue until the end of September. Russia completed the first part of the supply of S-400 components to Turkey at the end of July 2019, according to a loan agreement, signed by Moscow and Ankara in September 2017.
The deliveries took a total of 30 special flights and faced pressure from the US.
The United States has claimed that the S-400 systems are incompatible with NATO's air defence weapons and may compromise the operations of F-35 fighter jets. Washington later announced its decision to suspend Turkey's participation in the international F-35 programme over Ankara's purchase of Russian-made S-400s, adding that the country would be completely removed from the project by late March 2020. Under the programme, Turkey has ordered more than 100 F-35 fighter jets.
Despite the US pressure, Turkey has refused to rip up its contract with Russia, saying that it was a done deal, vital for its national defence and stressed that the S-400s were not related to the security of NATO, the US, or the F-35 in any way.