The Turkish Armed Forces have deployed at least one MIM-23 HAWK surface-to-air missile system to Syria’s Idlib province.
A MIM-23 HAWK launcher is seen deployed in Turkey’s Gaziantep region in September 2016. (Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images)
Video clips began to circulate on 27 March showing a convoy of Turkish military vehicles that included MAN trucks towing HAWK components, purportedly near the Kafrlusin (Bab al-Hawa) border crossing in northern Idlib.
At least two trucks towed launchers that were covered up, a third had the loading vehicle for the system on its bed and towed what was probably the system’s High Power Illuminator Radar (HPIR). Another truck towed a Continuous Wave Acquisition Radar (CWR), while a Humvee towed what was probably a Sentinel radar.
A second video showed one of the same trucks towing a launcher at a different location where shop signs written in Arabic rather than Turkish could be seen.
This might not be the first Turkish HAWK to be deployed to Syria. Photographs emerged in January 2018 that purportedly showed a battery that had been set up in Daraat Izza in Aleppo province. There has been no confirmation of that deployment.
Turkey received surplus Improved HAWK systems from the United States in the 2000s.
It subsequently initiated programmes to develop indigenous air defence systems, with the low- and medium-altitude ones designated the Hisar-A and Hisar-O respectively.
There have been recent reports in the Turkish media that both Hisar variants would be deployed to Syria even though they are just entering service. Ismail Demir, the president of Turkey’s Defence Industries, told CNN Turk on 3 March that the two Hisars were expected to be deployed in the field in the coming week.