NATO Turns Radar Toward Syria As Turkey Fears Attacks

NATO is increasing its security cooperation with Turkey as tensions rise on the country’s southern border with Syria. Okan Muderrisoglu reports that missile-detecting radar systems are being reoriented to detect threats from Syria, and command centers are being set up in NATO offices in Germany.

al-monitor Crew member Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Ronzio (R) of the Italian air force and his comrades wear oxygen masks during an emergency practice aboard a NATO Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircraft (AWACS), during a mission started from the NATO Air base in the western German town of Geilenkirchen, August 3, 2004. Photo by REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann.

Topics covered

syrian crisis, syrian, nato

Oct 12, 2012

Following Syrian artillery fire to Akcakale and Hatay, Ankara has developed a multifaceted new strategy. After convening the NATO Council on Sept. 3 in a sign of alliance solidarity, and after obtaining parliamentary authorization on Sept. 4 to consolidate its political and military deterrence, Ankara has now taken another critical step.

NATO was asked to activate its technical capacity to boost Turkey’s defenses by orienting its radar at Kurecik to Syria.

Military risk analysis

Turkey’s military command is updating military plans in view of the tension with Syria and is engaged in comprehensive risk analysis. The Syrian air force and air-defense systems are assessed as relatively strong points, and studies were made of the threats they may pose to Turkey.

Missile systems and chemical-warfare stocks in Syria were seen as elements of a major threat. This is when the decision was made to make use of NATO facilities.

Kurecik on line

Upon Turkey’s request, NATO reviewed its mechanisms and made two important declarations.

First, it described the Akcakale shelling as an attack against NATO’s southeast borders, instead of the Syria-Turkey border. Then, NATO emphasized the indivisibility of security among NATO allies and put it on record that it will not tolerate military aggression against Turkey.

Finally, a strategic dimension was added to diplomatic moves by turning the Malatya-Kurecik radar of the NATO missile shield toward Syria.

Anti-missile measures

With the integrated radar system at Kurecik, the missiles that make up Syria’s air-defense and offensive capacities are now under NATO surveillance. In case of a possible missile attack against Turkey, the early warning system of Kurecik radar will be activated, and Turkish F-16s kept on standby will be tasked to thwart the missile attack.

Moreover, depending on the level of threat perception, intelligence obtained from NATO AWACS early-warning aircraft may be utilized and Patriot missile interception systems can be deployed.

Missile shield project

The missile shield project Turkey joined in 2011 was initially set up with American technical and military input. The base at Kurecik was later put under Turkish military control.

At the beginning of the year, American experts were sent to the radar base. In defense of the system criticized by Russia and Iran, NATO said that all data to be obtained by the radar will be used in defense of all allies. Ankara said repeatedly that the radar base does not target any country and was purely a defensive measure without any deployment of missiles.

Command in Germany

The Kurecik missile shield system, which can detect aerial vehicle and missile-launcher movements in real time, is commanded from the NATO air base at Ramstein, Germany.

The system is controlled from the NATO air base at Geilenkirchen, Germany, which also monitors all aerial moves. A Turkish general and his team are working in the command center in Germany. This general is recognized as a fully authorized representative of Turkey.

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