1. Russia to deliver S-400 air defenses to Turkey in 2020.
  2. Ankara, Washington in talks over Patriot missiles.
  3. Turkey discussing missile defense purchases from Eurosam
  4. Turkey contracts eurosam, aselsan and roketsan to define its future indigenous air and missile defense system

Looks like Turkey is purchasing/developing 4 types of missile defense systems.

Why does Turkey need so many varieties of missile defense systems?

  • Maybe the fourth point is a bit unrelated to the other three; creating out of nothing an indigenous missile industry is going to be expensive, slow and there is always a risk of not getting a viable product. So even going full ahead with it, there would remain the need for an interim solution.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 11:25

4 Answers 4


There is an other aspect we have been ignoring I feel. Actions speak louder than words. Turkey has made it abundantly clear that they are not happy with Europe in particular and the west in general. Since they are also a NATO member, the purchasing of the Russian missiles sends a very strong signal. It shows to the west that Turkey is not taking the friendship between them and other western nations for granted and is telling the west that they should not take the friendship for granted either. Surely this is merely an aspect of the whole story, but it is an aspect that plays a significant role.


It's most likely a very wrong assumption that Turkey needs four different missile defense systems, and I seriously hope that they are not going to buy four different systems.

But let's say you are someone who can sell Patriot missiles. The question is often: How much does it cost you to produce a headline like "Ankara, Washington in talks over Patriot missiles."? And how much does it benefit your company since Turkey apparently wanting to buy them means it must be a good product? Since there is no deal, just "talks", you might get that with a very very small bribe. Of course your competitors will be able to buy similar headlines.

  • 3
    When I bought a couch the other year I talked with more than four sellers. With billions of dollars and lives on the line I would hope options get weighed, to the point that I would presume corruption if only one system was considered.
    – user9389
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 19:51

If I am going to build a missile defense system and sell it to other countries, I would be sure to include an exception for my missiles so that those would just be let through. Even if I would never in a million years think of launching a missile at the purchasing country, they may be willing to resell that system to another country which I may want to launch a missile towards at some point. Buying from multiple vendors reduces this risk to Turkey.

But I think a deeper explanation is that Turkey finds itself in a difficult position currently. They like many other countries are experiencing an increase in political polarization. The country has always occupied a strategic geographic location that has coastlines on both the Mediterranean and Black Seas as well as control of the Bosporus Strait, and being so close to Russia means that the Russians are much more cognizant of Turkey's actions more so than say France. Their NATO membership as well as the conflict in Syria has often times put them at odds, but President Erdoğan also doesn't hold back his own criticism of NATO for not backing his offensive against regional Kurdish groups. This push-and-pull effect from both East and West creates a strong dynamic to favor Erdoğan keeping Turkey's options open.

Had Turkey only considered purchasing from EU or American vendors, Russia could view that as a furtherance of negating Russia's strategic missile systems and increase tensions between Turkey and Russia when both countries are trying to keep relations normal.


  • No one has a good track record of not introducing flaws (advertently or not) in technology they export.
  • Turkey may not feel other EU NATO allies will always have their back.
  • Don't piss off (completely) the Russians.

They don't need all those varieties, since the systems mentioned all have the same basic purpose: long range aircraft interception.

Turkey may have put out queries on Patriot and Eurosam to get a better price on the S400.

I really like this Toyota, but I'm still thinking about a Ford or Nissan. Oh, you'll give me a better price? That is an effective technique, especially if the seller needs hard currency like euros.

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