Turkish air defenses now on Syrian border

Aug. 17, 2012 at 10:53 AM
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ISTANBUL, Turkey, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Concerned about rising tensions along its Syrian border, Turkey is deploying military forces to that frontier.

The Turkish army conducted war games Tuesday near its 550-mile border with Syria. Turkish tanks backed by advanced armored personnel carriers were deployed at the Oncupinar crossing in southern Kilis province for the military exercises.

Turkish media reports have interpreted the war games as a show of force against Syria, HaberX news agency reported.

Military tensions have been increasing between Turkey and Syria since Syria shot down a Turkish Phantom jet on June 22. Both members of the plane's two-man crew were killed.

The Turkish government then labeled Syria as a "hostile" opponent.

Among the systems being deployed on the border is the Turkish-built Atilgan Pedestal-Mounted Air Defense Missile System.

The Atilgan PMADS system, which began production in 2005, is based on the U.S. Avenger and was developed by Turkish defense contractor Aselsan Elektronik Sanayive Ticaret A.S.

The PMADS system's requirements were based on specifications of the Turkish armed forces as a result of a cooperative research and development project supported by the Turkish Undersecretaries for Defense Industries.

The Aselsan Elektronik Sanayive Ticaret A.S. Web site states, "The main mission of Low Level Air Defense System Atilgan is the low-level air defense of stationary and moving forward troops, convoys and tactical bases in the battlefield."

Among the characteristics of the Atilgan PMADS system the Web site notes under "general specifications," "high hit probability, high fire power, short reaction time, coordinated operation with command control systems, eight ready-to-fire Stinger missiles" and a 12.7mm automatic machine gun for self defense and missile lead zone coverage.

The Atilgan PMADS system incorporates passive surveillance, acquisition and tracking sensors, incorporating thermal and daylight TV cameras, a multi-pulse laser range finder for target ranging and a two-axes, gyro stabilized turret providing target surveillance, detection, automatic tracking and shoot-on-the-move capabilities.

Aselsan Elektronik Sanayive Ticaret A.S. has headquarters in Macunkoy in Ankara, where the company's Defense Systems Division oversees the Atilgan PMADS project.

Aselsan Elektronik Sanayive Ticaret A.S. is promoting the export of Atilgan PMADS, which cost about $13 million new, or roughly $12 million for upgrading an existing armored personnel carrier with the system, along with 20 Stinger missiles.

Variants of the Atilgan PMADS systems mounting Russian Igla surface to air missiles and suitable for naval deployment are also offered for sale by Aselsan Elektronik Sanayive Ticaret A.S.

Turkey is the world's fourth-largest importer of arms and the world's 28th largest arms exporter and Turkey's defense establishment is pushing the Turkish arms industry in the direction of independent production of high-tech weapons.

Despite repeated requests for anti-aircraft weaponry by the Free Syrian Army forces battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, there are no indications that the forces have been provided with any Atilgan PMADS systems.

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