The Turkish government has reportedly asked
its American counterparts to deploy a pair of Patriot surface-to-air missile system batteries
along its southern border with Syria. This news came amid the announcement of the death
of two Turkish troops, and the wounding of five more, in an airstrike in northwestern
Syria. Bloomberg was first to report the Turkish
request for U.S. Patriot batteries on Feb. 20, 2020. It is to be noted that last year Turkey choose
the Russian S 400 air defense system in place of American made Patriot ignoring the warning
from the U.S and NATO. Turkish President Erdogan was quoted by NTV
as saying: “One S-400 is worth three Patriots. If the conditions are even equal to the S-400
(deal), we would buy Patriots, but if they are not, then we have to think of our interests,” In this video Defense Updates analyzes why
Turkey is requesting for American made Patriot air defense system after asserting that Russian
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tank or aircraft or ship and three days of premium account. The request comes as Turkish-backed militant
in Syria, with direct support from Turkish artillery, have staged a major operation against
forces aligned with Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad in the country’s northwestern Idlib
province. Russia subsequently said that it had, at the
request of Syrian leaded Assad, sent Su-24 Fencer combat jets to conduct airstrikes on
rebel positions. The Turkish Defense Ministry has blamed the
Syrian government for the airstrikes that killed its troops though there is also evidence
that the Russian Su-24s were responsible. Turkey is now reportedly seeking the deployment
of American Patriot batteries to deter future airstrikes in areas which are under its de
facto control in northern Syria. The system could also be utilized to provide
an extra layer of protection for its own aircraft that will be carrying out missions in the
area. As of now, it is unclear if Turkey asked the
United States for the extra air defenses directly or did so through the channel available to
it being a member of NATO. Viewers may note that the Turkish government
has requested and secured the deployment of foreign Patriots, including from the United
States, through the Alliance on multiple occasions in the past.
The most recent instance was in 2013 when the Syrian regime was employing Scud and other
short-range ballistic missiles against rebels and there were possibilities that some of
these could land inside Turkey by mistake. During that time Spanish Patriot batteries
which were of Patriot PAC-2 variants were deployed at Incirlik Air Base and are present
to this day. The Patriot Missile System is manufactured
by Raytheon is an air defense system designed to protect against different kinds of aerial
threats. It entered service in1981. The Patriot system has four major operational
functions: communications, command and control, radar surveillance, and missile guidance.
The four functions are designed to work seamlessly to provide a coordinated, secure, integrated,
mobile air defense system. Different variants of Patriot systems have
been sold to many countries like the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia,
Kuwait to name a few. The Patriot system is expected to remain in
the service until at least 2040. The eye of the Patriot air defense system
is the AN/MPQ-65 radar which is used to detect and track targets.
The AN/MPQ-65 Radar is a passive electronically scanned array radar. It is equipped with IFF
(Identification friend or foe) and electronic counter-countermeasure to resist jamming.
The radar has a range of around 100 miles or 160 km. The PAC-2 missile is 5.8 meters (19 ft 0 in)
long, weighs about 900 kilograms (2,000 lb), and is propelled by a solid-fueled rocket
motor. It has a range of 45 miles or 70 km and can
reach a maximum altitude of 15 miles or 24 km. Patriot Pac 3 introduced the new MIM-104F
missile, which is also referred to as the PAC-3 missile. It has reduced size compared
to previous Patriot missiles and is more maneuverable. The missile uses a ‘hit to kill’ strategy
though it has a small high fragmentation warhead to enhance the kill probability.
For aerial targets, like aircraft & drones, Patriot MIM-104F missile has an engagement
range of 160 km whereas for ballistic missile it has a range of about 30 km. The United States & Turkey were at loggerhead
since July of last year when the first components of the Russian S-400 missile defense system
started reaching Turkey from Russia. There are 3 main reasons for the opposition
of S 400: 1. NATO as an organization likes to have interoperability.
So, the Russian system will be out of place and reduce tactical flexibility.
2. When Turkey operates the jets in the airspace which is monitored by S 400.S 400 will be
able to gather technical data such as radar signature of F 35s. This could potentially
pass onto Russian hands and could undercut the main advance of F35s that’s ‘stealth’.
3. S 400 could be hooked to Turkish air defense as part of an integrated air defense setup.
This could be a major security breach as having the S-400 linked into Turkish defense networks
could potentially give Russian analysts access to sensitive information that passes through
the cloud-based, multi-national Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) system
of F 35s. ALIS has critical mission data and flight routes. The relation between the U.S and Turkey vitiated
when the U.S dropped Turkey from F 35 program and President Erdogan expressed interest in
Russian Su 57 fighter. Russian and Turkish news outlets reported
that Mr. Putin led Erdogan to Su-57 which is developed by Sukhoi, at the annual MAKS-2019
air show at Zhukovsky International Airport outside Moscow. According to the Associated Press, Erdogan
looked into the cockpit of the Su-57 and asked whether it was available for sale.
Mr. Putin is said to have smiled and said, “Yes, you can buy it” Turkish President has recently threatened
to close down two U.S. military bases in Turkey. The two bases are in Incirlik & Kurecik. Erdogan said during a TV interview,
“If necessary we’ll close Incirlik and also Kurecik. If the threat of sanctions is
implemented against us, we’ll respond to them in the framework of reciprocity.” This move comes at a time when there is an
increasing probability of American president Donald Trump approving sanctions against the
country. Incirlik is believed to house roughly 50 nuclear
bombs. President Erdogan’s decision of conducting
military operations in Syria has opened several fault lines.
Russia has made its stance clear that it will keep backing the Assad regime.
A strong Turkish intervention will most likely result in a pushback by Russia on behalf of
its ally. Russia has stated a Turkish offensive against
Syrian forces in Idlib would be the “worst scenario”. Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said,
“If we are talking about an operation against the legitimate authorities of the Syrian Republic
and armed forces of the Syrian republic this would, of course, be the worst scenario,” Turkey is now in a catch 22 situation, where
its relation with U.S & NATO has gone downhill and Russia is not giving it freehand in Syria. In this crunch situation, it is having to
knock the doors of Washington and ask for Patriot Missile System which it rejected just
a few months ago. It remains to be seen, how things pan out
in the coming days.