Turkish forces have found Russian man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) in PKK hideouts in northern Iraq which may pose a threat to Turkish helicopters operating in the area, a report said Friday.
The SA-18 Grouse (9K38 Igla) MANPADS could be a threat to Turkish helicopters that provide air-support during counterterrorism operations in the area, Defense Policy Analyst Turan Oğuz told the Turkish language daily, Yenişafak.
“These MANPADS pose a threat to our ATAK and Sikorsky helicopters. However, this doesn't mean the military should not use helicopters," Oğuz said.
"Instead, intelligence units will need to shore up efforts to determine the whereabouts of these missiles," he added.
He said Turkish military helicopters use Helicopter Electronic Combat Self-Defense Systems, in addition to other sensors and defense systems, that will be effective against SA-7 and SA-14 type missiles.
He added that Turkish helicopters could also choose to carry out nighttime operations because the missiles used by the PKK terrorists are unable to function in the dark.
Oğuz said the PKK terrorists may have acquired the missiles from various sources, but identified U.S. arms support to the terrorist group’s Syrian offshoot the YPG as one of the main sources.
“Missiles were also stolen from military arsenals in Iraq and Syria. Most of these were acquired during the looting in 2011,” Oğuz said, adding that the transfer of arms and military supplies from Iraq and Syria happens frequently.
Turkish security forces regularly conduct counterterrorism operations in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Turkey, where the PKK has attempted to establish a strong presence and base. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) also carries out cross-border operations in northern Iraq where PKK terrorists have hideouts and bases that they use to carry out attacks on Turkey.
Turkish counterterrorism operations intensified after July 2018 and have become routine since the beginning of another extensive campaign, Operation Claw, which was launched on May 27 and aimed to entirely eliminate the presence of the terrorist organization in northern Iraq.
On July 13, the TSK launched Operation Claw-2 as a follow up to the successful Claw-1. As in the first, the second phase of the operation also included deployments to northern Iraq's Hakurk region and aimed to continue to destroy weapon placements and shelters used by PKK terrorists.
Operation Claw-3, the third phase of the original operation, was initiated on Aug. 23 in the Sinat-Haftanin region of northern Iraq. The operation was launched to facilitate border security, eliminate the presence of terrorists, and destroy terrorist caves and shelters in the region.
Over the course of its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children.