The new Turkish weapons used in Syria have made Russia to think
WASHINGTON, (BM) – Turkey and Russia escaped a full-scale war, although Ankara is conducting a powerful offensive against the troops of the Syrian regime, which Moscow supports.
Why didn’t Russia escalate in Syria and abandon direct confrontation with Turkey?
It turns out that Turkey has cheap and effective new drones.
Undoubtedly, peace in Syria should be welcomed. And military analysts are surprised to learn that there are wars in which Russia clearly does not want to participate.
Last week, the Turkish army demonstrated its crushing power in the fight against the Syrian forces, destroying hundreds of tanks, artillery pieces and armored vehicles. And all thanks to its cheap but effective drone program, which, according to NATO officials, has changed the balance of power in Syrian Idlib not in Russia’s favor.
The confrontation began at the end of February. The Syrian regime’s troops, with the support of Russian aviation and “special forces advisers,” launched an offensive in Idlib, the last major stronghold of rebels fighting against dictator Bashar al-Assad. The civil war in Syria lasts almost 10 years.
When the regime’s troops took over the important crossroads of Sarakib, the Idlib rebel center began to fall apart, causing hundreds of thousands of refugees to travel north in the snow, seeking security in Turkey.
Theoretically, Turkey and Russia could start a full-scale war
Turkey in response sent several thousand troops to Idlib to prevent the collapse of this hotbed of resistance. The fighting between the Syrian regime and the Turkish troops began. Hundreds of Syrian army personnel were killed. At night, the Turks launched air strikes on Syrian tanks, artillery and armored vehicles.
This conflict was a dramatic turning point. Turkey’s actions were not ordinary skirmishes with cross-border clashes. All this was more like a real war. Turkey used a variety of forces and assets from its military arsenal and inflicted heavy losses on the Syrian army.
In theory, this mini-war was a dangerous adventure, because it created the threat of a direct clash between the Turkish army, which is the largest among NATO’s European partners, and the formidable Russian armed forces, including the Air Force, which support Syria. If this conflict had its logical continuation, it could lead to a full-scale war between Turkey and Russia.
Russia should have won – but not won
Theoretically, Russia should have won in such a conflict.
However, in this round, Turkey prevailed.
According to military sources, the Turks have a new trump card, which forced Russia to think about the wisdom of escalating the conflict with the Erdogan government.
The Turkish offensive was attended by 100 locally produced unmanned aerial vehicles that used guided munitions with deadly effectiveness.
“For almost ten years, the Turks have been implementing a program to create drones, and Idlib has shown how successful it is,” said one NATO military commander who has regularly been in the region in recent years.
“Having established domestic production on the basis of technologies available on the market, they managed to build a very large and efficient fleet of drones for much less money than if they bought this equipment from the United States or other allies,” this NATO representative said. “And since Turkey is in conflict with the separatist movement, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, it had enough time to practice and develop skills without thinking about respecting human rights.”
US drone ban favors Turkey
Sources indicate that American restrictions on the sale of combat drones to Turkey have become an important incentive to create domestic drones. The United States feared that this technique would be used against the Kurds. By 2007, the Turkish army was tired of restrictions on supplies from America. Disappointed with the characteristics of the Israeli drones available on the market, Ankara began to develop its own program.
In 2009, the Turks created the aerospace firm Baykar under the control of President Erdogan’s son-in-law. Baikar constructed a medium-range Bayraktar TB2 UAV, which can carry out a target for 24 hours. By 2015, test launches of locally manufactured missiles were already carried out from this drone, and a year later it was first used to strike at Kurdish targets.
“The MAM-L ammunition that was used in Idlib showed brilliant results. It is cheap, easy to manufacture and hits exactly the target,” said the NATO military commander.
We are talking about light guided armor-piercing ammunition for shock drones with a range of about 10 km and a very accurate GPS laser guidance system that directs the bomb to the target with an accuracy of one meter.
“They dropped these little bombs on Syrian tanks all night, which caught Putin’s attention.”
Turkey does not name the exact amount of the production costs of Bayraktar TB2, declaring it a state secret, but last year it sold 12 such drones and three ground control centers to Ukraine for $ 69 million. It turns out less than six million for one device. This means that TB2 costs about three times less than the American Riper MQ-9 with similar characteristics, which the United States sells to its allies at $ 16 million apiece.
The head of the defense industry secretariat, Ismail Demir, speaking at a conference organized by the Atlantic Council in 2016, praised the United States for its decision to limit the sale of drones, which prompted Turkey to manufacture its own UAVs. “I don’t want sarcasm to sound in my words, but I would like to thank the American government for those projects that it did not approve, because it forced us to create our own systems,” Demir sarcastically added, adding that Turkey no longer needs combat American-made drones.
“Dozens of such drones flew over Idlib, and they dropped these small bombs on Syrian tanks all night, which attracted the attention of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” said a NATO spokesman. – Of course, in the event of a direct confrontation, Russia could use its aircraft and cruise missiles to break into Turkish air defense and destroy the drone control system, but the costs of such a conflict because of Idlib would be unthinkable. Turkey knows that it will not be able to drive Russia out of Syria, no matter how much it wants to, but it has clearly shown that Putin and Assad cannot drive Turkey out of Idlib. So now we have to return to agreements and negotiations. ”
Today, Turkey and Russia agreed on another ceasefire in Idlib. Russian troops will patrol a corridor about six kilometers wide on both sides of the M4 / 5 highway, which is an important link between Damascus and Aleppo.
Undoubtedly, peace in Syria should be welcomed. And military analysts will be delighted to learn that there are wars in which Russia clearly does not want to participate.
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Source: Inosmi / Mitch Prothero
The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.