Turkey and the Russia's Deadly S-400: The Air Defense System That Changed Everything

Can Kasapoglu

Can Kasapoglu

Security,

The S-400 stands to change everything without firing a single shot.

Turkey and the Russia's Deadly S-400: The Air Defense System That Changed Everything

On July 12, 2019, Turkey began receiving the first batch of the S-400 deliveries from Russia. Ankara’s aspirant procurement can fundamentally transform the Turkish military strategic posture.

Above all, acquiring a game-changing Russian surface-to-air missile (SAM) system will lead to drastic changes in the Turkish Air Force’s concept of operations (CONOPS). Inevitably, a novel operational art revolving around anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) will gradually dominate Turkey’s defense planning. 

Nowadays, the frenzy of colored maps illustrating projected S-400 kill zones has already caught on with the Turkish press, which has little, if any, knowledge about engagement envelopes and radar coverage in different topographies. Secondly, the S-400 introduces not only new capabilities but an alien strategic culture to the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), noting that contemporary Russian air defense understanding is rooted in the Soviet legacy of the late 1970s. Thirdly, at some point, the TAF will have to alter its doctrinal order of battle to digest a strategic SAM capacity efficiently. Finally, amidst possible sanctions, which would unavoidably hit the Turkish defense sector’s ties—not only with American entities but also with Europe—Russia may well become an indispensable arms supplier for Turkey.

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