Turkey's controversial S-400s to be deployed at Ankara's 'coup attempt base'

Turkey's controversial S-400s to be deployed at Ankara's 'coup attempt base'
The Murted Air Base, formerly named Akinci, was allegedly the command centre for the 15 July 2016 coup attempt.
2 min read
04 July, 2019
The planned S-400 location was the 'command centre' for a 2016 coup attempt [Anadolu]

Turkey is planning to deploy the controversial S-400 missile defence system in the capital Ankara, local media reported, the site of an attempted coup against the government in 2016.

Ankara is currently embroiled in an entrenched diplomatic dispute with Washington over the Russian defence system.

Washington has urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to step back from the purchase of the Russian system and warned that if it goes forward, it will forfeit its place in the F-35 fighter jet programme lest it compromise NATO's defence network.

While US President Donald Trump expressed sympathy with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the issue last week, the US continues to threaten sanctions that could further damage Turkey's already fragile economy if Erdogan goes forward with the purchase.

But the Turkish president has consistently refused to back down, claiming the purchase is a "done deal" with the S-400s due to be delivered later this month and operational by the end of the year.

While officials have not yet published plans on where the S-400s will be deployed, Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reported on Wednesday that the first of two S-400 batteries will be installed in an air base in the Turkish capital.

The location had been previously rumoured in the Turkish press and pointed to as a move by Erdogan to secure his 16-year rule from future coup attempts. 

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According to Cumhuriyet, the planned location for the S-400s will be an Ankara air base formerly called Akinci.

The Akinci air base was allegedly the command centre for the events of 15 July 2016, when rogue elements of the Turkish military staged a coup attempt against Erdogan's government. 

Now-defence minister, then-chief of general staff, Hulusi Akar was taken hostage at the base during the coup attempt.

Akinci was closed following the coup attempt and renamed Murted (apostate). 

The unusual new moniker was the base's name until 1995 and was granted to the site by an Ottoman sultan after a troop desertion.

The second S-400 battery will be deployed in Turkey's southeast, pro-government Daily Sabah reported. 

The country's Kurdish-majority southeast borders Syria and Iraq.

Ankara is engaged in a protracted campaign against Kurdish militias in both countries. 

The S-400 systems will only be activated in "times of increased risk and threats", NTV reported.