Dr. Can Kasapoglu
Director of Security and Defense Research Program, EDAM

– Open-source intelligence suggests Turkish air defense deployments in Tripoli. Available visuals showcase MiM-23 Improved Hawk and Korkut air defenses.

– MIM-23 Improved Hawk is a US-manufactured, medium-range air defense system.

– Being deployed by the US Armed Forces back in 1959, the system showcased its combat performance during the Iran – Iraq War, having downed dozens of Iraqi aircraft. Tehran procured the SAM system in the Shah era.

– However, during the 1973 Arab – Israeli War, the Israeli Hawk interceptors’ relatively low speed (Mach 2.4) fell short of intercepting Soviet-manufactured, very agile Mig-25R Foxbats with the aircraft’s Mach 3.2 speed.

– The improved, or I, variant, which Turkey retains, offers enhanced interception capabilities against low-flying aircraft, better interceptors, among many other advancements.

– Korkut is a low altitude / very short-range, mobile air defense system with a very high rate of fire. It will particularly be effective against drones and low-flying rotary-wing platforms. Korkut remains an indigenous production of Turkey’s burgeoning defense industry.

– Together, MiM-23 Improved Hawk and Korkut will offer a layered air defense configuration in a limited area of operations. With enough numbers, these systems can protect the Tripoli skies given the present LNA capabilities.

– Hafter’s Forces air campaign has been a troublesome concern for the GNA for a long time. From a military standpoint, Turkey’s new air defense deployments could offer feasible solutions against the LNA’s Cold War remnant aircraft, as well as Chinese drones.

– Besides, as the Turkish military gears-up to deploy troops in Libya, SAM coverage against air threats remain indispensable.

– However, one should note that Turkey’s SAM deployments would also be SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses) targets for General Hafter and his sponsors. In this respect, any transfer of anti-radiation missiles & loitering munitions (kamikaze) should be monitored carefully by Ankara.