Amid the fight for the balance of power between Turkey and Greece in the East Mediterranean, which include the overlapping claims over hydrocarbon resources in the region, Ankara has reportedly been dealt a major blow with claims of the Russian-built lethal S-400 air defence systems being defective.
Turkey received the first batch of the advanced defence missiles in July, after purchasing them last year, despite US warnings and threats, which ultimately led Washington to remove it from its F-35 program, in which Ankara was a manufacturer and buyer.
However, it seems that all of that could be for nothing with several media reports claiming that the Turkish Army has identified problems in the S-400s, which they have not been able to resolve for the last six months.
According to media sources, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar while addressing such rumours confirmed to reporters that the S-400 missiles procured from Moscow have not yet been put into operational use.
According to a Greek news website, Pentapostagma, Russian engineers have not been approved to overlook operations of the S-400s in Turkey, with Defence Minister Akar stressing on the need for issues of operational readiness to be resolved by experts from Ankara.
Moreover, the word in Russia is that the Turkish Army doesn’t possess the expertise or the knowledge to put the Russian missiles on alert, with Russian analysts believing that the situation is irreversible without the intervention and supervision of Russian technicians.
As per local reports, Ankara and its NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) allies fear the Russian experts implementing “special” changes to the configurations of the missile systems, could adversely affect their alliance.
Military experts are also of the opinion that reports of the S-400s being defective might be just a bluff, with Turkey choosing to not engage the systems amidst fears of Washington imposing sanctions on them.
Considered to be the most advanced of its kind, S-400 surface-to-air-missiles (SAMS) are the most modern long and medium-range surface-to-air missile system, intricately designed to detect and destroy aircraft and cruise and ballistic missiles, while also possessing the strength to eliminate ground-based installations.
First entering Russian service in 2007, the missile systems can engage targets at a range of up to 400 kilometres, up to six times the speed of light, at heights of up to 30 kilometres. The S-400s can also launch 40N6 missiles (long-range, hypersonic, Surface-to-Air Missiles) to engage low maneuverable aerodynamic targets.