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Turkey first NATO member to sign for S-400s: Tech chief

Russia 'ready to cooperate' if Turkey wants to buy Su-57 fighter jets, says Head of Russian state-run tech corporation

Emre Gurkan Abay  | 02.05.2019 - Update : 03.05.2019
Turkey first NATO member to sign for S-400s: Tech chief


Turkey is the first NATO country to sign a contract for the Russian S-400 missile defense system, the head of a Russian state-owned umbrella company for export-oriented defense and civilian industries said on Thursday. 

Despite unprecedented pressure regarding the S-400 deal, Turkey continues holding a very direct and consistent position regarding implementation of all the contract provisions, Rostec Corporation's Sergey Chemezov told Anadolu Agency in Moscow. 

The fact that Turkey does not yield to pressure from its partners demonstrates the independence of its foreign policy as pursued by country’s government and president, he added. 

"We signed the contract for the S-400s in 2017, and before the end of this year, we plan to conclude all deliveries," Chemezov said, adding that the deal was significant for both Moscow and Ankara. 

He also said Russia invited the prospect of cooperation with Turkey in the development of the next generation air defense system -- the S-500 project. 

"The S-500s are currently under development and will be a Russian state-of-the-art air defense system without equal throughout the world," he said emphasizing that both countries had the capacity to contribute to such a project.  

Russia ready to replace F-35 with Su-57 

Chemezov stressed that Russia was "ready to cooperate" to sell Ankara Su-57 fighter jets if Turkey’s participation in the F-35 jet program with the U.S. fell through. 

"These fifth-generation Russian fighter jets [Su-57] have outstanding qualities, and show promise for export," he said, adding that the jets were ready to be sold. 

Asked about possible production in Turkey of the S-400 and Su-57, Chemezov said Russia would "gladly evaluate" any Turkish suggestions for localization or transfer of technologies. 

Emphasizing Turkey’s progress since the early 2000s to replace imports in its defense industry, he said the country was highly competent in producing rifle armaments, armored vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles.

"We are ready to support Turkey’s desire to develop its own defense industry," added Chemezov.

- Russian-Turkish civilian cooperation

Chemezov also added that Rostec wanted to establish "durable and long-term" cooperation with Turkey in defense as well as in civilian technologies such as helicopter manufacturing.

He noted that Turkish aerospace corporation TUSAS/TAI produces various helicopter components which Russian firms could use and certify for use in Russian-made aircraft.

Russia is prepared to supply Turkey different types of helicopters, he said.

"In 2018, we signed a contract to supply Turkey with three Ka-32 helicopters to fight fires. Rostec intends to further develop cooperation in the field of fire aviation with Turkey," he said, estimating that the Turkish market of aerial fire-fighting craft comprised of 50-70 such helicopters.

He identified energy domain as area of promise for cooperation between Rostec and Turkey.

He said the Russian United Engine Corporation (UEC) -- a Rostec subsidiary -- was working on the implementation of joint programs for the development of a strategic partnership with Turkish pipeline operator Botas.

He cited two contracts with Turkey to supply and overhaul gas turbine engines in 2013 and 2014.

"In addition, we expect the signing of a third contract for routine maintenance of an energy facility in Sivas [central Turkey]," Chemezov said.

He regretted that Russia-Turkey cooperation had yet to reach its "full potential" and suggested the two countries develop joint projects in IT, medicine and aviation.

Chemezov also identified various environmental projects as possible areas of cooperation, including the "light city" program, which replaces traditional outdoor lighting with smart energy-efficient, systems that adjust automatically depending on the time of year and day.

In IT, he said Turkey may be interested in various technologies including face recognition algorithm FindFace, which detects people's appearances in photos and videos, and conducts accurate high-speed database searches.

"The algorithm determines a person's gender, age and even emotions and searching a database of 1 billion photos takes less than half a second," said Chemezov, emphasizing that the technology had proven its effectiveness in a number of Russian cities including Moscow, as well as in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Chemezov applauded Turkey’s efforts to develop its own space program as one more potential area of broad cooperation between the two countries.

He noted that the Turkish Turksat-4A satellite had been launched by Russian company Rosoboronexport, under Rostec and said the company had ample opportunities that could be useful for Turkey.

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