NATO members Germany and the Netherlands will supply Turkey with the Patriot missile systems it has sought to bolster its national security against potential threats from war-torn Syria, Today’s Zaman reported.
Germany will provide two Patriot PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles to Ankara, while the Netherlands will deliver one Patriot PAC-2 missile, say reports by Turkey’s private NTV television, citing NATO sources.
NATO member Turkey formally requested Patriot missiles from the bloc earlier last month after weeks of talks with NATO allies about how to shore up security on its 900-kilometer (560 mile) border. Syria is believed to have several hundred ballistic surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads.
Though Turkey is reluctant to be drawn into a regional conflict, the proximity of Syrian bombing raids to its border is straining nerves. Ankara has repeatedly scrambled fighter jets along the frontier and responded in kind to stray Syrian shells that have crossed into its territory.
Turkish concerns deepened last week after an air assault by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad on the rebel-held frontier town of Ras al-Ain, which triggered some of the largest movements of refugees since the 20-month-old conflict began.
However, speculation is rife that the deployment is a measure to counter a possible missile threat not from Syria, but from Iran, as the Patriot missiles requested by Ankara are not designed to provide protection against mortar or other stray shells similar to the ones that have landed several times on the Turkish side of the border in recent weeks.
No missiles to come from US
According to the same sources, the US is not set to provide any missiles to Turkey in the first stage of deployment.
Another of Turkey’s NATO allies, the US reportedly pointed to the fact that outside of the ones it has already provided to Israel and Poland, the rest of America’s Patriot systems are under maintenance, making it difficult for the US to respond to Turkey’s recent requests.
The sources also stated that a decision has been made as to where the missile systems will be set up. The Patriots are to be deployed within a triangular area including the provinces of Gaziantep, Malatya and Diyarbakır in southern and eastern Turkey.
After a decision made last week at a meeting at NATO’s Allied Forces Northern Europe (AFNORTH) command related to the Turkish request, Germany and the Netherlands each committed to supplying the Patriot systems to Turkey.
It is expected that military plans related to the Turkish demand for Patriots will be finalized at a NATO foreign ministerial meeting starting on Tuesday in the Belgian capital of Brussels.
The approval process for the delivery of the Patriots is expected to start in the German and Belgian parliaments on Thursday at the latest, with the possibility of delivery taking place after Dec. 9.
Patriots to detect threats 80 kilometers into Syrian territory
The conditions under which Patriots would be fired have also been decided, according to the report. Patriot radars are expected to be able to detect Syrian missiles within 80 kilometers of the border. In such an instance, missile defense systems would be activated in order to eliminate the threat.
The monitoring operations of the Patriot radars will be controlled from the Ramstein Allied Air Command headquarters, which serves as a NATO installation in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz, while the control center will be commanded locally from within Turkey, according to the report.