Turkey's plans to buy missile systems from the US should not be interpreted as a willingness to host missile defence shield components on its territory, Turkish daily Today's Zaman said on September 21.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has denied media reports that Turkey is buying missile interceptors against a threat posed by Iran, the daily said. Iran was the main target of the missile defence shield initiative of former US president George W Bush, to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic, scrapped by Barack Obama on September 17.
Having rebuffed the Bush administration on the plans to put missiles on its soil, Turkey re-inforced its stance that it would host Nato equipment, but not join US initiatives outside the alliance's framework.
With reports in the US saying that the department of defence notified congress of plans to sell up to $7.8 billion worth of Patriot missile systems to Turkey, Turkish officials have been trying to downplay the link to a new missile defence system, the newspaper said.
Today's Zaman quoted a statement by the country's defence ministry, which said that the acquisition of Patriot systems was not a foregone conclusion and that competing bids from Russian and Chinese manufacturers were still being considered.
Just how much Turkey plans to spend remains uncertain, the daily said. While the defence ministry said that the $7.8 billion figure was subject to further talks, the military said that it planned to spend $1 billion on four long-range missile defense systems, according to the daily.
However, the bid invitations sent to defence companies stipulated a cost of $4.5 billion, the daily said, adding that the Turkish military's statement "intended to alleviate the concerns of the Turkish public, which has been questioning the rationale behind buying costly missile systems".
The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) is a high/medium advanced surface-to-air guided missile air defense system, designed to destroy missiles by intercepting and colliding with them. The Patriot Multi mode Interceptor incorporates a multi mode seeker and an improved explosive warhead, thus making the PAC-3 a major upgrade to the Patriot system.
The Patriot system has four major operational functions: communications, command and control, radar surveillance, and missile guidance. The four functions combine to provide a coordinated, secure, integrated, mobile air defense system.