Turkey will need to wait longer to finally station NATO’s Patriot missiles on its southern frontier, as no deployment is expected before 2013 Although NATO’s 28 countries quickly approved Turkey’s request to augment its air defense against a potential cross-border attack from Syria, the deployment of Patriot systems will likely take place in early 2013, as technical work to determine the number of batteries and sites continues.
“It’s hard to give a precise date for the deployment of the Patriots. But it could take no less than a month if everything goes as planned,” diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. The NATO ministers’ approval on Dec. 4 was just the first phase of the process, as technicalities of the deployment are yet to be decided by the SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander in Europe). In addition, Turkey should also wait for the completion of the national approval processes of the countries, namely the Netherlands and Germany, who are believed to provide those systems. German Foreign Minister Gudio Westerwelle said they would decide on the matter this week in the Cabinet and would send it to the Parliament for approval. The systems are to be sent by sea, which could further delay the deployment.
However, NATO Allied Land Commander Gen. Frederick Ben Hodges told the Anatolia news agency that the deployment of the systems will be in Turkey sooner than expected. “These are large systems. They will be brought to Turkey via ships and they will be uploaded to ships in a few weeks. I cannot give you a specific date about the deployment of Patriots but it will be shorter than what most people expect,” he said.
THAAD and AEGIS
The Turkish press reported that Turkey demands 10 batteries to protect a wider region but NATO can provide only three due to a lack of systems. Germany is reported to be sending two Patriot batteries and Netherlands one, but officials predict that the United States could also consider deploying one or two batteries to provide maximum protection for the people and territories of Turkey. NATO officials say the Patriots will only be used in intercepting Syrian weapons that cross into Turkish airspace, meaning the alliance will be cautious not to interfere with the armed conflict within Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said NATO’s decision to send Patriot missiles to Turkey is a clear message to Syria that Turkey is backed by its allies. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu denied claims that there was disagreement between Turkey and NATO over how many batteries to station in Turkey. “On the one hand is Turkey’s security needs and on the other, NATO’s capabilities. There is ongoing work to find an optimum balance between these two situations,” Davutoğlu said.
“The protection from NATO will be three dimensional; one is the short-range Patriots, the second is the middle-range Terminal High Altitude Air Defense [THAAD] system and the last is the AEGIS system, which counters missiles that can reach outside the atmosphere.” With this integrated system, Turkey will have maximum protection, he said