An Israeli company which specialises in satellite intelligence gathering, ImageSat International (ISI), has released images showing the alleged site of the first deployment of Turkey’s controversial Russian-made S-400 missile defence system, which has recently been delivered.
The images were posted on the ISI Twitter account yesterday, reportedly showing the launch components and radars of the S-400 system deployed at the Murted Akinci Airbase in Ankara as of 29 August. The system, it is said, is operational.
— ImageSat Intl. (@ImageSatIntl) September 3, 2019
The Israeli company claims that the launchers were not loaded, though, suggesting that its current deployment at that airbase is merely a trial run before the components are reassembled ata permanent site. The assessment made by ISI concluded, “However, we cannot rule out the option of this location being a permanent site.”
The Turkish government’s purchase of the S-400 system from Russia has been a major source of controversy between the US and Turkey over the past year. Indeed, it is one of the primary factors in the breakdown of relations between the two NATO members and allies.
Since Turkey’s agreement with Russia to purchase its missile defence system was made public, the US has put pressure on Ankara to withdraw from the deal, claiming that it would compromise NATO security. Washington has also pointed out that the technology is not compatible with the F-35 fighter jets that Turkey intends to buy from the US, and has halted the sale as well as the training of Turkish pilots to fly them.
Despite an ultimatum given to Turkey to end the deal with Russia by the end of the first week of June, Ankara insisted on obtaining the S-400 system. The first consignment arrived in Turkey in July and the second in late August. According to the Turkish government, there is no going back on the agreement.