In January, 2018 Turkey reportedly awarded an 18-month contract for a study on the development and production of a long-range air- and missile-defense system to France and Italy, showing — ostensibly — Turkey’s ongoing commitment to NATO. The study, contracted between the EUROSAM consortium and Turkey’s Aselsan and Roketsan companies, was agreed upon in Paris, on the sidelines of a meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The contract for the study came on the heels of a deal between Ankara and Moscow, according to which Turkey would purchase the S-400 missile defense system — one of the most sophisticated on the global market — from Russia. The question is: Why would Turkey first order a Russian defense system and then turn around and make a cooperation agreement with Europe for the same purpose?
The answer is likely that Ankara is trying to pretend that it is still loyal to NATO, at a time when its strategic inclinations seem to indicate otherwise.
As Turkey is a member of NATO, its decision to opt for the S-400, a non-NATO missile-defense system, has been the subject of speculation and controversy. NATO has adopted the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), according to which the United States plans to deploy its missile-defense systems in various parts of Europe, to protect its forces and those of other NATO members from Iranian missile attacks. Turkey’s move appears to run counter to the EPAA.