"These missile systems are intended to be used for testing and training purposes to simulate threats that may come from countries with ex-Soviet systems in their inventories," a local defense industry source told Today's Zaman. The decision to buy former Soviet-designated SA-12 (300V version) and SA-10 (S-300) missile systems, as well as SA-15 short and medium-range TOR systems, at a cost of around $100 million, was made during an executive committee meeting of the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) on July 22, but it was not made public. Sources close to the project said the systems will be tested mainly with F-16s using the EHTS system, which has been moved from Eskişehir to the central Anatolian town of Konya, some 250 kilometers from Ankara, where a regional combat readiness simulation center is located.
Tests with these missile systems will, amongst other things, help Turkey detect whether the Greek Cypriot administration, which has Russian S-300s in its inventory, has been using them.
"The missile systems were not purchased to be launched against perceived enemies and they will not be included in the inventory of the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK]. They will be tested at the Konya range with EHTS systems. Their radars and fire control systems are to be bought separately," a well-informed local defense industry source said.
During the tests those systems will be jammed, enabling Turkey to develop counter systems, said the same source.
Turkey has been holding combined air training exercises, code-named Anatolia Eagle, with Turkish jets and jets from allied and partner countries such as Israel, Pakistan and Jordan at the Konya training center.
The center, opened in 2001, also hosts Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) systems, which feature software developed by the Israel-based firm MLM. ACMI systems are capable of transferring in-flight images from jets to command headquarters.
In a separate development, Turkey is planning to include about a dozen long-range air and missile defense systems, worth around $4 billion, in its inventory for the first time.
An international tender was opened last year in March by the SSM for the acquisition of the missiles in which four companies are competing.
Official Russian procurement agency Rosoboronexport, however, has also renewed an earlier offer for the direct sale of S-400 missiles to Turkey as an alternative to Russian participation in the tender.
SSM head Murad Bayar told the Anatolia news agency recently that initially two of the missile systems will be installed in Ankara and in İstanbul, the country's two biggest cities.
US-based firms Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have jointly offered a combination of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC 3) and PAC 2 low-to-high-altitude surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) based on foreign military sales credit in the SSM tender.
The Chinese HQ-9 (reported export designation FD-2000) air-defense system, as well as Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) Arrow missiles, developed jointly with Boeing, are also competing in the tender.
However, the main competition has been taking place between Russia and the US, as the latter has already raised concerns with Ankara that the purchase of Russian missiles will create an inter-operability problem with NATO.