Turkey deployed array of air defence systems in Syria, Libya

Turkey has deployed an array of air defence missile systems in Syria and Libya to defend against air and drone attacks, analyst Paul Iddon wrote for Forbes on Tuesday.

“Aside from its controversial purchase of S-400 air defences from Russia, which it hasn’t activated yet, Turkey’s air defences are mostly short-and medium-range and relatively antiquated,” Iddon said.

In Idlib, northwest Syria, Ankara deployed its own MIM-23 air defence missiles – an older and much less effective system than the U.S.-made PAC-3 Patriot, according to Iddon.

The Turkish media cited an official in early March saying that Turkey would field its domestically-built Hisar low-altitude air defence missiles to Idlib, however it is unclear if any of these missiles were actually deployed, Iddon said.

The Turkish military is also becoming more deeply involved in the Libyan conflict where it backs the United Nations-recognised, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against rebel General Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

Turkey has deployed a formidable array of air defence missiles in the west of Libya and has also made significant headway in establishing an “air defence bubble” around Tripoli, Iddon said.

But Turkey’s air defences have their limitations. While Ankara also deployed two MIM-23 Hawk batteries at al-Watiya airbase, they did not prevent an air strike on the base on July 3 carried out by unidentified war planes.

“What happens next in Libya is anyone’s guess. Turkey is likely to retain its presence and increase the number of its air defence missiles in Libya, especially if the GNA advances further eastward in the coming weeks,” Iddon said.