Turkey’s Air Defense Umbrella and S-400

Due to the particular geographical region Turkey is located in, Turkey faces various threats to its national security. Turkey is both a country directly neighboring the Middle East and at the exact center of the three continents, which gives it a lot of advantages but also can drag it into crises and threats.

Besides the technological advancements, ongoing arms race on the regional level has also resulted in the rise of threats from air space. The increase in the number of unmanned aerial vehicles, the missile programs of the countries in the region and the missiles at various ranges in their inventory have pushed Turkey to take necessary measures in the field of air defense.

Lacking high altitude air defense capability for years, Turkey started to address this incapability after the Gulf War. However, it could take some steps to compensate for it only in the following years, with the T-LORAMIDS tender. Even though Turkey decided to initiate the negotiations with the Chinese firm CPMIEC, following the tender, certain problems surfaced in the following era, which resulted in the cancellation of the project, and, thus, no progress in this realm has been realized.

Both the developments triggered by the Arab Spring in the Middle East and the energy issue coming forth in the Eastern Mediterranean led Turkey to take necessary steps in the field of air defense. Currently, an agreement has been reached in the negotiations with Russian Federation on the purchase of S-400 air defense system. However, the step taken by Turkey to compensate for its shortcomings in the high-altitude air defense field has started to be questioned by the USA and some European countries.

This study, conducted by Defense Policy Researcher Arda Mevlütoğlu and ORSAM Research Assistant Sertaç Canalp Korkmaz, has put emphasis both on the technical dimension of the issue and on the reasons why such a system is needed in Turkey.

I believe this study will make significant contributions to the literature regarding ongoing debates on S-400 issue and I wish that it will be an enlightening piece for all readers.