A 30-member group of military experts from the United States, Germany and Holland arrived to Ankara yesterday in order to conduct a site survey to determine the best possible location to station the Patriot air and missile defense system requested by Turkey from NATO last week.
After a meeting at the General Staff Headquarters, the team will then move on to the region in order to assess the most appropriate location for the Patriots. The delegation will be placing high importance on the "key location, most secure site and most developed city" criteria in their study to determine where the Patriots should be positioned.
Sharing information with SABAH, NATO sources explain that they do not expect the team to stay long in Turkey and all of their needs durign the site-survey are being compensated for by NATO. There are three cities that are being mentioned as the most probable candidates for the Patriots' deployment due to their commandeering location near the Syrian border, their potential for providing security for NATO soldiers and their well-developed transportation and communications systems. Those cities are Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep and Hatay.
The following are the three main criteria sought for the stationing of soldiers and the Patriot missile defense system:
1-THE MOST KEY LOCATION: First and foremost, the Patriots, which are being deployed as a defensive measure against the potential threat of chemical warfare from Syria, must be stationed in the most commandeering location along the Turkish-Syrian border. Due to its positioning smack in the center of the border, Şanlıurfa is being considered as a coordinate that would be able to provide full commandeering power along the border region.
2-THE SAFEST SITE: NATO wants to ensure that the batteries are positioned in a location where the Patriots and the 170 soldiers to accompany them can be harbored in the safest manner possible.
The Patriots will be hosted by a district that has the strongest security and public order measures in place. Over the past year, Turkey's Armed Forces have moved their most experienced troops to the border region.
In addition to the Gendarmerie Special Operations (JÖH) troops, Police Special Operations units have also been stationed in the region. As a result, it is stated that there are no security gaps in the provinces along the border.
3-THE MOST DEVELOPED CITY: The team of experts will also be seeking out regions where there will be no disruptions in electricity distribution for the missile defense system in addition they will be assessing the speed and continuity of telephone and internet services as well as ensuring there is a widespread transportation network.
The Patriot Air and Missile Defense System is designed to detect, target and then hit incoming missiles, using a ground-based radar. Patriot missiles are launched from Patriot missile batteries that contain the missiles themselves, the missile launcher, which holds, transports, aims and launches the missiles, a radar antenna to detect incoming missiles, a van which houses computers and consoles to control the batteries, referred to as the Engagement Control System (ECS) and a power plant van equipped with two 150-kilowatt generators which provide power to the radar antenna and the ECS.
The city where the Patriots will be deployed must be able to provide uninterrupted electricity in order for all of these components to fully-function. According to military sources, Gaziantep, Hatay and Şanlıurfa are listed as being the three cities that fit these criteria.
On Automatic Pilot
While debate regarding who will be in command of the system ensues, SABAH had the opportunity to speak with high-level officials that say the issue is actually not that pertinent as the system operates on automatic pilot.
The Patriot missile system is entirely based on defense and is able to detect, target and hit missiles between three and six meters' length, which fly at three to five times the speed of sound. Patriots use a ground-based radar system to find, identify and track the targets. The Patriot radar has the ability to lock in on a target at 80.5 kilometers' distance. At that distance, it would be impossible for a human eye to see the target. The Patriot missile system can operate in a completely automatic mode, without any human intervention. A Patriot missile battery can have up to 16 launchers. In addition, the system carries spare missiles to re-supply the launchers which add to the complexity of setting up the battery system. Each launcher is approximately the size of a tractor trailer rig.
Meanwhile, the Patriot system's operating personnel, technicians, back-up personnel and security forces for the generator fuel and batteries themselves will also need to be stationed in the region.
General Staff: For Defensive Purposes Only
The General Staff released an announcement on Monday stating, "The deployment of the air and missile defense system is only to counter an air or missile threat originating in Syria and is a measure entirely aimed at defense. That it will be used to form a no-fly zone or for an offensive operation is out of the question."
The statement also announced that a committee of both Turkish and NATO alliance authorities will be conducting a site survey beginning today and noted that where exactly the missiles will be stationed and how many as well as the precise number of military personnel that will be brought into the country will be determined after the team's exploration activities. The statement also said that efforts for the integration of the air and missile defense system with Turkey's air defense system have been ongoing within the NATO framework."
This is a translation of an article originally written by Ceyda Karaaslan.