The term of Spain's Patriot air defense missiles deployed at Turkey's İncirlik Air Base will be extended to June 2018, Daily Sabah learned from diplomatic sources yesterday.
Following the departure of the Netherlands on Jan. 26, 2015, Spanish Patriot batteries have started their service at the Turkish base. Under the umbrella of NATO, Patriot missile defense systems from various countries have been used in Turkey against possible missile threats that might come from Syria. In the face of growing security threats engulfing its region, Turkey had to rely on Patriot batteries provided by its NATO allies Germany and the Netherlands, which were withdrawn in 2015, and later Spanish batteries took their place at the İncirlik Air Base in Adana. Spain decided in September to send Patriot missiles to Turkey as part of its NATO obligations to replace units from the Netherlands that were being withdrawn, and naval ships carrying the missiles arrived at the port of İskenderun Limak in the southern province of Hatay on Jan. 9.
Neighboring war-torn Syria has been posing security threats to Turkey, as there had been the possibility that the missiles might fall into the hands of a terrorist group or they could be used by the Syrian regime in case of a unilateral military conflict.Therefore, Turkey has long been prioritizing the procurement of a long-range missile defense system, and it did not want to pin its hope on foreign countries for national security.
In line with this policy, Turkey and Russia recently signed a $2.5 billion deal to purchase S-400 missile systems. Turkey will be the first NATO member country to purchase the system. For this reason, it has faced criticism from other member states claiming that Turkey is moving away from NATO. Turkish officials stressed that the system will be able to function without any connection to external power and will be managed by Turkish personnel, rather than Russian advisers.