Against the backdrop of escalating regional tensions, Turkey has decided to purchase long-range ballistic missiles for the first time in its history. The manufacturers of the US’ Patriot missile, Russia's S-400, China's FD-2000 and the French-Italian consortium Eurosam's SAMP/T will be competing for the business on July 4, 2012. Turkey will made a final decision on which company will provide the weapons during a meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee, which will be chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey is set to spend $4 billion on this long-range air-defense-system project, which will entail the purchase of four different air-defense systems. These will aim to neutralize any threat posed by long-range missiles before they enter Turkish airspace.
Even though NATO's newly erected radar-defense system is located in Malatya, in eastern Turkey, the defense missiles to be launched in case of a potential attack are positioned outside the country. Therefore, Turkish officials have deemed it necessary for Turkey to have its own air-defense system. Security experts argue that the presence of a long-range missile system will be a deterrent to potential attackers.
At present, the Turkish Armed Forces do not have a long-range missile or air-defense system. Turkey’s short-range air-defense system is composed of Rapier and Stinger missile batteries, while its mid-range defense is provided by the American I-Hawk missile system.
Turkey's need for long-range air and missile-defense systems first became evident during the US operations in Iraq in 1991 and 2003. After lengthy negotiations, NATO ended up sending the Patriot system to Turkey. These Patriot missiles provided security against potential Scud missile attacks from Iraq. The Defense Industry Executive Committee, whose members include Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Chief of General Staff Necdet Ozeland and Minister of National Defense Ismet Yilmaz, will meet in early July to decide on the missile system.
What do the proposals include?
- The Patriot missile air-defense system radar can spot enemy missiles 100 kilometers away. Once the defense missiles lock onto a target, they can demolish it within 15-20 seconds. They have a 70-km range.
- The Russian S-400 system can simultaneously target 12 different incoming projectiles. It is also capable of hitting targets moving at 2,800 km/h.
- China's HQ missiles can reach targets at an elevation of 20,000 meters and at a range of 100 kilometers.
- The SAMP/T system is a single-launcher system that can carry eight missiles. Once targets have been established, the system can launch all of its payload within ten seconds.