TEL AVIV — Refuting reports from Ankara, a U.S. government official said a U.S. X-band radar deployed in eastern Turkey as part of NATO’S ballistic missile defense shield is operated solely by American personnel, with no restrictions on the use of data generated by the powerful early warning sensor.
“That radar is exclusively operated by U.S. personnel, exactly as it is here. We will control the data and fuse it with data from other radars in the region to generate the most comprehensive and effective missile defense picture,” the U.S. official said of the AN/TPY-2 radar recently deployed at Turkey’s Kurecik Air Force base and a twin system operating in Israel’s Negev desert.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the visiting U.S. official confirmed Turkish reports that the AN/TPY-2, produced by Raytheon, began operations in late December. The site is manned, he said, by some 150 U.S. personnel, a mix of contractors and military police dispatched from U.S. European Command in Germany.
But the official vigorously denied Turkish reports of preconditions imposed by Ankara restricting the sharing of radar data with non-NATO nations, particularly Israel.
“There are some people in Turkey that did not want the radar. They argued that the reason we’re putting the radar in there is to help Israel. Well, that’s not why we’re doing it.”
According to the U.S. official, the Turkish-deployed radar is facing the wrong direction to be of much help to Israel.
“In fact, the opposite is really true. Our radar here in Israel helps Turkey. ... Bottom line, it’s in all of our interests to have an American radar 400 kilometers from the Iranian border,” he said.
The U.S. radar now operating at Kurecik stems from an agreement last autumn to provide early warning of ballistic missile launches, principally from Iran.
During a visit last month to Tehran, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attempted to ease Iranian concerns about the U.S.-deployed radar on Turkish soil.
“We made it clear that this is a purely defensive [system] against any ballistic threat,” Davutoglu was quoted in the Turkish press as telling his Iranian counterpart.