Turkey tightens border control, Russia to deploy missiles
A Turkish Air Force F16 jet fighter prepares to take off from an air base during the Anatolian Eagle military exercise in the central Anatolian city of Konya, in this April 28, 2010 file picture. REUTERS PhotoThe Turkish Air Force has increased the number of warplanes patrolling the Turkish-Syrian border after the downing of a Russian jet fighter by a Turkish F-16 on Nov. 24, while Moscow fortified its military presence in Syria with additional missiles.
The intensification of the aerial protection of Turkish airspace was announced by a routine daily statement of the Chief of General Staff that declared the Turkish-Syrian border was now being patrolled by a record number of 18 F-16s.
Turkey has always patrolled its airspace with F-16s, but the number of warplanes on duty was no more than 12, even in early October when Russian jetfighters first violated Turkish airspace.
Turkey also sent 10 tanks to the southeastern province of Gaziantep early on Nov. 25, which will be deployed to the border, sources said.
An additional howitzer was also deployed to Hatay’s town of Yayladağı, close to where the Russian jet was shot down.
The move follows Russia’s statement that it would continue its military operations near the Turkish border and deploy high-tech air defense systems to Syrian bases.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of state-of-the art air defense missile systems to a Russian air base in Syria on Nov. 25.
The S-400 missile systems, which will be sent to the Hemeimeem air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia, just about 50 kilometers south of the border with Turkey, are capable of targeting Turkish jets.
Turkey shot down a Russian SU-24 bomber, saying it crossed into its airspace from Syria despite repeated warnings.
Putin also ordered the military to take other measures that “should be sufficient to ensure flight safety.”
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Nov. 25 that the Russian missile cruiser Moskva had already moved closer to shore to protect Russian aircraft missions near Syria’s border with Turkey with its long-range Fort air defense system.
Shoigu also said that from now on, all Russian bombers will be escorted by fighters on their combat missions in Syria. He also said his ministry had severed all contacts with the Turkish military.