By Emin Avundukluoglu
Turkey’s national defense minister said on Wednesday that Russia’s first delivery of an air defense system to Turkey is expected in 2019.
Turkey and Russia have signed deals for two S-400 air-defense systems, with one of them optional, Nurettin Canikli told parliament's Planning and Budget Committee.
The S-400 is Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system and can carry three types of missiles capable of destroying targets, including ballistic and cruise missiles.
"The first delivery of the S-400 air-defense systems is planned to be accomplished in 2019," said Canikli.
The system can track and engage up to 300 targets at a time and has an altitude ceiling of 27 kilometers (17 miles).
Responding to questions by lawmakers on the purchase of the new defense system, he said: "On the one hand, we are purchasing S-400s, on the other hand, we have started developing a similar system with EUROSAM."
Turkey signed an agreement with fellow NATO members France and Italy to develop its national missile defense systems in July.
Turkey's own defense missile system
Turkey’s defense industry and the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium will work together to determine needs and priorities for potential joint production of a SAMP-T anti-ballistic missile system.
Canikli added that Turkey had made an offer for purchasing U.S.-made Patriot air defense system. "Both for S-400s and Patriots, the negotiations are still continuing."
"Furthermore, Turkey has also started a new platform, a new line which it will develop with its own potential," said Canikli referring to Turkey's own production of defense missile system.
Canikli added that 8,570 FETO-linked personnel have been dismissed from the Turkish Armed Forces since last year's defeated coup attempt.
They include 150 generals, 4,630 army officers, 2,168 sergeants, 1,211 specialized sergeants and 411 civil servants, he said.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016 which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Turkey's fight with PKK
Canikli drew attention to Turkey's fight with PKK/PYD/YPG terrorist organization.
"Turkey will use its right of intervention based on international law," he said, referring to Turkey's potential transboundary military operations against PKK/PYD.
The PYD and its military wing YPG are Syrian branches of the PKK, which has waged a war against Turkey for more than 30 years.
Since the PKK launched its terror campaign in Turkey in 1984, tens of thousands of people have been killed, including more than 1,200 since July 2015 alone.
The U.S. and the coalition have largely ignored the PYD/PYG links to the PKK, which the U.S., EU and Turkey list as a terrorist group.