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Turkey may use Russian S-300 systems to build missile shield

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Turkey is planning to build its own long-range missile defense network by 2010 and may choose Russian-made S-300 air defense systems as its main component, a local news agency said on Wednesday.
ANKARA, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - Turkey is planning to build its own long-range missile defense network by 2010 and may choose Russian-made S-300 air defense systems as its main component, a local news agency said on Wednesday.

The Turkish missile shield would include at least eight anti-missile batteries meant to protect strategic targets from theater-range ballistic missiles. The project includes an initial off-the-shelf procurement of 4 batteries in a tender that will be announced in the near future, the ANKA news agency said.

According to ANKA, the four candidates are Russia's S-300, U.S. Patriot PAC-3, Chinese FT-2000 and Israeli Arrow air defense systems, all capable of destroying tactical ballistic missiles.

Turkey has already launched preliminary talks with the United States, Russia, Israel and China regarding its plans to purchase its first missile defense systems, worth over $1 billion.

"Russian [air defense] systems have many advantages over the U.S. systems," the agency said.

However, another Turkish media source, the Turkish Daily News newspaper, said the U.S. Patriot "is seen as the strongest candidate for Turkey, given the system's success and popularity and the close relationship between Turkey and the U.S."

The Patriot is the world's only combat-proven tactical ballistic missile defense system. It was widely used by U.S. troops during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Turkish Daily News said, however, that Russia had also offered Turkey its latest S-400 air defense systems, which are used to protect the skies over Moscow and other strategically important locations in central Russia.

Turkish officials have not confirmed the media reports.

Russia's S-400 Triumf is a new air defense missile system developed as an upgrade to the S-300 family.

It has been designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), or twice the range of the MIM-104 Patriot, and 2.5 times that of the S-300PMU-2.

The system is capable of destroying stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles with an effective range of up to 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) and a speed of up to 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) per second.

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