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BRUSSELS Six batteries of Patriot anti-missile missiles (two Dutch, two German and two American) to protect Turkey from attack by Syria are set to be fully operational by early February.
"Two Dutch batteries are expected to be operational in Adana, southwest Turkey, by the weekend," a NATO official said Friday. Two German batteries are then due to be operational two days later in northeast Turkey followed by two U.S. batteries south of the German batteries' location by early February, he added.
In opening remarks at a press conference here, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu stressed that deployment was "defensive only."
British Brig. Gen. Gary Deakin, director of the Strategic Operations Centre at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, added that the Patriots would provide protection against missiles for up to 3.5 million Turkish people.
A Patriot battery is made up of a multifunction radar, an air engagement control station, launchers (between four and six depending on the nation), and a number of missiles (up to 16) per launcher. All six batteries will be plugged into a command-and-control center at Air Command Ramstein in Germany. The center will then send a warning of a missile that might be a threat to Turkey to the batteries.
The aim, said Deakin, is to have all sites up and running with all the packages by the end of the month, and initial operating capability by this weekend. Full operational capability will add items such as spare parts, in case something breaks, fuel and logistics, and manpower to continue the mission long after initial operational capability.
The current planning is for the mission to last for up to a year.