First components of Russian-made S-400 missile system have arrived in Ankara, Turkish officials said. The US had threatened sanctions, sparking a row within NATO, of which Turkey is a member.
Russia has started delivery of its advanced aerial defense system S-400 to NATO member Turkey with a Russian military cargo plane landing to the Murted Air Base outside Ankara on Friday.
"The delivery of parts belonging to the system will continue in the coming days," Turkey's Defense Industry Directorate said. "Once the system is completely ready, it will begin to be used in a way determined by the relevant authorities."
Turkey's NTV broadcaster reported that the S-400 might not be ready for use until the autumn. The deal is allegedly worth some $2.5 billion (€2.2 billion).
Russia says its S-400 systems have a range of 400 kilometers (249 miles) and hit targets at up to 27 kilometers altitude
Read more: Is NATO future at risk over US-Turkey rift?
Deadline at the end of July
The purchase sparked a row within NATO, with the US threatening sanctions against Turkey for buying the Russian-made military technology. Specifically, the Pentagon fears that Russia will be able to spy on the US-made F-35, the latest generation fighter jet, once S-400 becomes part of Turkey's defense network. Earlier this year, the US suspended deliveries related to the F-35 and gave Turkey a deadline until the end of July to cancel the S-400 deal. If Ankara did not comply, Turkish pilots training to fly F-35 in the US would be expelled from the country.
US officials also pressured Turkey to buy the more expensive, US-made Patriot missiles instead.
"S-400 is at least twice as cheap as the US system Patriot-2," UK military expert Richard Connolly at Birmingham University told DW's Russian service.
"The Russians and before them the Soviet Union were always leading in missile technology," he added. "The reason for that was that the Americans and the West produced better aircraft."
Erdogan reassured by Trump
Less than two weeks ago, Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that US President Donald Trump reassured him there will be no sanctions over buying the S-400s.
"We heard from him that there won't be anything like this (sanctions)," Erdogan told a press conference in Osaka, Japan, following a meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
"It is out of the question that such a thing takes place between two strategic allies. I believe it cannot happen," Erdogan said.
He also said Turkey expected to delivery of F-35 stealth fighter jets.
However, Trump himself did not publicly exclude the possibility of sanctions. Earlier this week, the US State Department restated there would be "real and negative" consequences over the S-400 purchase, including Turkey's participation in the F-35 program.
Roman Goncharenko contributed to this report.
dj/ng (AFP, dpa, AP)