Turkey signed a letter of intent with France and Italy on Wednesday to strengthen cooperation on joint defense projects including air and missile defense systems.
Turkish National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Thursday that the letter of intent includes developing an upgraded model of the missile systems as well as the S-400 air defense system, and manufacturing and using them by the three countries.
As a first step, the Franco-Italian EUROSAM consortium and Turkish companies will look into a system based on the SAMP-T missile system produced by EUROSAM and determine the common needs of the three countries, the sources said.
NATO member Turkey says it plans to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg last month said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had told him that Ankara was discussing buying air defense systems from France and Italy in addition to the S-400s.
Defense ministry sources said Turkey, France and Italy would strengthen cooperation on joint production of military electronic systems, software and simulation systems and warfare equipments, as well as air and missile defense systems.
The letter of intent was signed in Brussels, where Turkey’s Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli was attending a meeting of NATO defense ministers.
Counterterrorism in Turkey
Regarding Turkey’s counterterrorism operations, Canikli stated that Turkish security forces neutralized 2,304 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists in 11 months.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. The PKK has been conducting armed violence in the southeastern part of Turkey since 1984. More than 40,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the three-decade long conflict.