World Bulletin / News Desk
While the latest spillover of violence from neighboring Syria injured five Turkish nationals, the incident also prompted questions about NATO's capability to protect Turkey, which was one of the important flank countries during the Cold War, and a member of the alliance since 1952.
Several Turkish media outlets reported on Thursday that the Patriot radars did not intercept the Syrian missile, and some further claimed that the Patriot system is only programmed to protect NATO at the Incirlik base, and not all Turkish borders and this is why the Patriot radar did not respond. A senior NATO official in Brussels who answered Daily Sabah's questions under the condition of anonymity said that the missile landed outside the areas covered by the current Patriot configuration.
"The Patriot missiles are deployed in a way to provide the greatest possible coverage and maximum protection of the Turkish people against missile attacks. Millions of people are better protected on NATO's southeastern border as a result. We remain vigilant and committed to our Patriot deployment to help protect Turkey against missile attacks," the NATO official said. However, deployment locations indicate that the current Patriot batteries are not sufficient to protect all Turkish borders.
Despite Turkey's demand for 20 Patriot batteries to protect its 800-kilometer border with Syria, there are only five batteries currently serving in Turkey – one in Adana, two in Kahramanmaraş and two in Gaziantep provinces. These five Patriot batteries however are not sufficient to protect Turkey's border with Syria.
Mete Yarar, a former member of the Turkish Armed Forces and a security expert, drew attention to the location of the Patriot batteries as being significant. "You can't protect your Hatay border by a missile battery that is positioned in Adana or Kahramanmaraş. In order for full protection, it is necessary to deploy those batteries to regions closer to the border," he said.
According to defense experts, the range of the missiles in the system is between 20 kilometers to 160 kilometers and the radar range is about 250 kilometers to 300 kilometers. However, considering the air distance between Adana to Hatay is about 300 kilometers, and Gaziantep to Hatay is about 200 kilometers, the Patriot batteries may not be able to protect Turkey's southern borders.