ISTANBUL - Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles has been completed but Ankara is discussing a further deal with a European consortium to help it develop its own missile defense system, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said.
The decision by NATO member Turkey to buy the S-400s from Moscow has been seen by some of its Western allies as a snub to the alliance. The deal has also raised concern because the weapons cannot be integrated into NATO defenses.
A senior NATO commander told Reuters last week that the alliance would continue to press Ankara to buy weapons that could work together with NATO systems, adding that so far no S-400s had been delivered to Turkey.
"It is finished, the S-400 missiles have been bought. The rest is just details now," Canikli said in televised comments in the Black Sea town of Giresun.
But Turkey was not content with the S-400 deal alone, he added. "We are also making preliminary agreements with the EUROSAM consortium to have this technology to develop, produce and use our own sources for air defense systems," Canikli said, referring to a joint Franco-Italian defense project.
Canikli signed a letter of intent with France and Italy in Brussels on Wednesday to strengthen cooperation in defense projects including missile defense, Turkish defense ministry sources said last week.
They said that as a first step, EUROSAM and Turkish companies will look into a system based on the SAMP-T missile system produced by EUROSAM.