Turkish defense ministry posts photos of first batch of S-400 equipment

First shipment of Russian S-400 defence systems arrive in Turkey

Military vehicles and equipment, parts of the S-400 air defense systems, are seen on the tarmac after they were unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft, at Murted military airport in Ankara, Turkey, July 12, 2019. Washington earlier warned that it might deny Turkey the purchase of F-35 fighter-bombers, if Ankara pressed ahead with the S-400 deal.

"We are aware of Turkey taking delivery of the S-400, our position regarding the F-35 has not changed and I will speak with my Turkish counterpart Minister Akar this afternoon", Esper said.

"In military terms, it is an advantage of the USA to have access to the Russian systems within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation armoury to understand the way the system works and deploy counter measures against it", he said.

But Trump has not ruled out sanctions and Turkey could face expulsion from the F-35 programme under any punitive measures.

NATO, which counts Turkey as one of its members, is "concerned about the potential consequences" of the purchase, an official told AFP.

The question of the day here is, will President Trump overrule virtually his entire national security establishment and keep Turkey a partner in the F-35 program, even as Turkey's Foreign Ministry tweeted photos of Russian S-400s being delivered? "There's no problem and the process will continue in a healthy way going forward".

India has also made a decision to augment its air defence with the Russian S-400 Triumf missile system, sealing the deal in October 2018.

The delivery to an air base in the Turkish capital Ankara comes after Washington warned this week that there would be "real and negative" consequences if Turkey bought the defence system.

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The prospect of a further rupture in Turkey's relations with Washington also raises a delicate issue rarely mentioned in public: the status of American nuclear weapons stored at Turkey's Incirlik air base.

Twenty Turkish servicemen received training from Russian Federation in May-June and 80 more Turkish servicemen will receive training to use the S-400 system, the source was quoted as saying. The Russian Ministry of Defense tweeted footage of the plane carrying the S-400s touching down in Turkey.

At the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, last month, Trump blamed the Obama administration for not allowing Turkey instead to buy Patriot missiles, the American alternative, implying the conditions his predecessor imposed on the potential sale were too harsh. But Turkey said the offer does not meet its requirements, including possible future joint production. "It's a political statement that the U.S. doesn't have a hegemony and control over North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members and particularly over Turkey", Ashraf said.

Washington is eager to prevent Russian Federation from having access to its advanced military equipment, but the United States also relies heavily on Turkey as an important partner in the region because of its strategic location bordering Iraq, Iran and Syria.

"Today three cargo planes arrived", Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told state-owned Anadolu news agency, adding that deliveries would continue in coming days.

It was not immediately known where the defence system would be deployed or when it would be operational.

The US has already halted deliveries of the aircraft to Turkey and suspended the training of Turkish pilots.

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