Many people believe that all these events with shelling too closely resemble a provocation by Syrian insurgents, conducted with the direct support of Ankara. In favor of this version are numerous statements of Damascus on caravans with weapons and ammunition going through the Turkish-Syrian border. In addition, it is worth considering one quite obvious fact: the administration of Bashar Assad, despite all the accusations of suppressing "civil liberties", still did not go crazy in order to seek the full-scale conflict with one of the strongest countries in the region. And yet, it seems, the shelling of the Turkish territories will not cease in the near future: if the version of the provocation of the rebels is correct, then it is advantageous for them to continue firing at Turkey until it declares war to Syria and helps to overthrow the hated Assad. Turkey, in turn, does not cease to express angry statements against Damascus and already demands that NATO help it in view of “regular attacks”. The Alliance, however, is in no hurry to organize an invasion of Syria, citing a number of difficult reasons, which seem to be reluctant to help Ankara in its political games. Nevertheless, the risk of a war beginning, even if without the participation of NATO forces, remains. Let us try to compare the forces of Turkey and Syria and predict the possible course and consequences of such a conflict.
The total number of people in the Turkish armed forces exceeds half a million. Of these, approximately 150 000 people are civilian civilian employees. However, a large number of personnel, if necessary, can be mobilized, in reserve about 90 thousand people. About 38 thousand of them - the reserve of the first stage, which can enter service within a few days after the relevant order. The ground forces are the most numerous part of the Turkish armed forces. They serve almost four hundred thousand people. The NE structure has four field armies and a separate Cypriot grouping. The bases of the ground forces are evenly distributed throughout Turkey, while the corps belonging to the second field army are located closest to the Syrian border. In the three corps of each army, with the exception of 4, there are armored, motorized rifle, artillery, etc. brigade.
The armament of the Turkish Army is quite heterogeneous, both in the country of production and in age. For example, fighters of different parts can use German automatic rifles G3, produced under license, and others - "native" American M4A1. At the same time, newer weapons usually go to special forces. The same situation is observed with armored vehicles. In parts of the Turkish army there are still more than one and a half thousand American tanks M60 in various modifications, including self-modified machines. The newest tanks of the Turkish ground forces are the German Leopard 2A4, the number of which is approaching three and a half hundred. To move motorized rifles and direct fire support in battle, the Turkish army has a large number of armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles. For example, the M113 armored personnel carrier alone has nearly 3300 pieces, some of which are equipped as tank missile destroyers. The next largest is the ACV-300 family of armored vehicles, created and built in Turkey itself. Armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles of this family are available in the troops in a substantial amount - about two thousand units. Finally, in recent years, ground forces have received about one and a half thousand armored vehicles of the Akrep, Cobra, Kirpi models, etc. The information on the condition of small arms and light armored vehicles is also valid for the gendarmerie, a separate type of armed forces that is actually a kind of internal troops.
It is worth noting a wide range of missile and jet weapons intended for use in the ground forces. In addition to the captured or purchased Soviet RPG-7 grenade launchers (according to various estimates, at least five thousand), Turkish soldiers have anti-tank missile systems TOW, ERIX, MILAN, Cornet-E, Competition, etc. The number of all these ATGM systems equals several hundred and varies depending on the type. The most massive anti-tank in the Turkish army is a disposable grenade launcher HAR-66 - the licensed version of the American M72 LAW. To protect against attacks from the air, motorized infantry and infantry have portable missile systems FIM-92 Stinger, including the latest modifications. Until recently, the Turkish army had a certain number of Soviet Igla MANPADS, but recently they were completely removed from service.
The total number of field artillery in the Turkish armed forces exceeds 6100 units, among which there are guns of various types and calibers. The latter fluctuate within the 60-107 mm in the case of mortars and from 76 mm to 203 for guns and howitzers. The most powerful barrel armament of the Turkish army are M116 howitzers, purchased from the United States. Their caliber is equal to 203 millimeters, the total number of such guns is about one and a half hundred. Self-propelled artillery is represented by one and a half thousand installations carrying guns of caliber from 81 millimeter (self-propelled mortar M125A1) to 203 mm (self-propelled howitzer M110A2). As for rocket artillery, Turkey has succeeded markedly in this direction. Most of its MLRS, such as the T-22 or TOROS 230A installations, are self-made. However, there are also a number of US and Chinese volley fire systems in the troops.
Most anti-aircraft weapons - around 2800 units - are trunking systems. Anti-aircraft guns of various calibers are mainly of import origin: these are American installations M55, German Mk.20 Rh202 and Swedish guns from Bofors. The rest of the anti-aircraft artillery was produced in Switzerland at Oerlikon, or in Turkey under a Swiss license. In addition to the barreled anti-aircraft systems, the Turkish Army has approximately 250-th self-propelled anti-aircraft missile systems Atilgan and Zipkin carrying Stinger missiles.
Finally, the ground forces own their own aviation in the form of four hundred helicopters. Most of them - transport and passenger - are represented by the American UH-60 and UH-1H, as well as licensed versions of the Eurocopter Cougar. It is noteworthy that at present the Turkish army has only 30-35 attack helicopters. These are AH-1P Cobra and AH-1W Super Cobra, manufactured by Bell. For reconnaissance and other similar needs, the Turkish army has about one and a half hundred unmanned aerial vehicles of its own production.
The next type of troops - the air force. According to the views of recent years, it is on the Air Force that the main shock functions are assigned. Most likely, it is Turkish aircraft that will deliver the first blow to Syrian targets in the event of a full-scale conflict. Among other things, this version is confirmed by the composition of aviation equipment available to the Turkish Air Force. About sixty thousand personnel maintain and operate 800 aircraft for various purposes. The structure of the Turkish air force has four large formations - the aviation command. Two of them are aimed at direct operation of combat aircraft, and the remaining two are responsible for the training of personnel (Training Command in Izmir) and provision of supplies (Command of the rear in Ankara). In addition, separate teams of tankers and transport aircraft are directly subordinate to the headquarters of the Air Force.
The basis of the strike power of the Turkish Air Force are the American fighter-bombers F-16C and F-16D. In total, there are about 250 pieces. The second strike aircraft is also an American F-4 Fantom II of later modifications. It is worth noting that the number of these aircraft in the configuration of fighter-bombers is constantly decreasing. Currently, almost all of the existing 50-60 "Phantoms" converted into reconnaissance version. In the near future, about the same number of F-5 fighters will be left in the Air Force. There is no special bomber aircraft in the Turkish Air Force. The functions of long-range radar detection are currently provided by a small number of Spanish-made specially developed CN-235 aircraft, which also became the basis for reconnaissance and transport vehicles.
It is noteworthy that the transport aircraft of the Turkish Air Force has approximately the same “diversity” of types as the combat aircraft, however, it loses in total. For the transport of goods and passengers there are about 80 aircraft of the following types: the already mentioned CN-235, C-130 and C-160. In addition, for the transport tasks of the Air Force have the Cougar and UH-80U 1 helicopters.
The main method of aerial reconnaissance in the Turkish air force is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. About 30-40 of the five types of aircraft purchased from abroad, from Israel and the United States. In addition, in the coming years, a number of UAI Anka UAVs will be produced.
Navy forces. Several centuries ago, the Turkish fleet was considered one of the most powerful in the world, but now it cannot be called so. In addition, not all the techniques of the Turkish Navy can be called sufficiently new and modern. For example, the newest of the six Turkish diesel-electric submarines built in Germany on the 209 project, began service in the late eighties. However, it is armed only with torpedoes and / or mines. Eight newer boats, the last of which was commissioned in 2007, are a further development of the same German project.
Similarly, the situation with frigates and corvettes. Thus, the frigates of the Yavuz and Barbaros projects are a corresponding refinement of the German type MEKO-200 and are built in the amount of eight. The Turkish types "Tepe" and "G" are actually American "Knox" and "Oliver Hazard Perry". Three and eight used ships of these projects were purchased from the USA. In turn, the six “B” type corvettes are the ships of the project D'Estienne d'Orves purchased from France. Admittedly, Turkey is trying to restore its own production of large warships. So, last fall, the first corvette of the MILGEM project was commissioned. In the near future several more similar ships will be built.
In addition to large ships, the Turkish Navy has a large number of boats for various purposes. These are about a hundred rocket boats of projects Kartal, Yildiz, etc., as well as four types of 13 patrol boats. Finally, the Turkish fleet has two dozen mine sweepers, 45 hovercraft and several dozen auxiliary vessels.
Maritime aviation in Turkey is small. These are six Italian and Turkish CN-235M patrol airplanes, as well as 26 helicopters. The latter are used for anti-submarine and rescue operations. The antisubmarine helicopter fleet consists of US-made Italian helicopters Agusta AB-204 and AB-212 (licensed Bell 204 and Bell 212, respectively), as well as Sikorsky S-70B2 assembled in the USA. Combat aircraft or helicopters in the Turkish Air Force are absent.
Finally, it is worth saying a few words about the gendarmerie and the coast guard. Formally, these organizations belong to the armed forces, but by the standards of other countries, they are internal troops and maritime border guard, respectively. The arming of the gendarmerie as a whole is similar to that used in motorized rifle troops. At the same time, on its bases one can still find, for example, modernized captured Soviet-made BTR-60 trophy. The Coast Guard has more than a hundred patrol boats and 14 type ships, whose displacement ranges from 20 to 1700 tons.
The Syrian army, at first glance, looks weaker than the Turkish. First of all, the difference in numbers is evident. The total number of troops in Syria slightly exceeds 320 thousand people. Approximately the same amount is in reserve and can be called up within a few weeks. As in Turkey, the largest part of the personnel belongs to the ground forces - about 220 thousand people. At the same time, do not forget about the results of the ongoing civil war in Syria. A part of the servicemen went over to the side of the rebels, taking with them some weapons. Also, a number of weapons and military equipment were destroyed during the fighting. Therefore, these figures refer to the start of the first collisions last year. An accurate calculation of the current state of the Syrian armed forces is understandable for obvious reasons.
Syrian ground forces are organizationally divided into three army corps, which include motorized rifle, armored and artillery divisions. In addition, there are several separate brigades in service of which are “special” weapons. First of all, separate brigades armed with short-range ballistic missiles and anti-ship missiles should be noted. Also, several separate brigades are allocated to perform special tasks by artillery, anti-tank missiles and airborne assault forces. Finally, the Syrian border troops are also separated into a separate brigade.
The main strike force of the Syrian armored troops are Soviet-made fighting vehicles T-55, T-62 and T-72. Their total number is almost five thousand units, more than a thousand of which are in storage. These tanks cannot be called fully modern, but with a proper approach to the interaction of troops, even outdated types can pose a certain threat to the enemy. In addition, it should be noted that almost all of the oldest T-55 are in storage for a long time, and the most massive tanks in the Syrian army are T-72, of which there are more than one and a half thousand. The number of other armored vehicles in the Syrian armed forces is almost equal to the number of tanks. In this case, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, etc. differ a little wide variety of types. For example, in the neighboring units, the old BTR-152 and the new BMP-3 can simultaneously serve. The total number of infantry fighting vehicles of three models (Soviet / Russian BMP-1, BMP-2 and BMP3) reaches two and a half thousand, and for armored personnel carriers this figure is one and a half thousand. The newest armored personnel carriers in the Syrian ground forces are the BTR-70, which, in combination with the number of armored vehicles for infantry, gives rise to certain thoughts about the selection of combat vehicles. It seems that Syrians prefer crawler vehicles with more firepower to wheeled vehicles.
Syria's field artillery is equipped with Soviet systems of various types and calibers in the number of 2500 guns. Approximately a fifth of all the guns is provided a self-propelled machines and 2S1 "Carnation" 2S3 "Acacia" and ACS 122 mm caliber on the basis of the T-34-85 and implements D-30, vaguely resembling the old Soviet SU-122. The rest of the artillery is towed. The most massive weapon in the Syrian army - the 130-mm howitzer M-46 - has at least 700 units. The second largest artillery system is the D-30 howitzer. Self-propelled and towed guns of this type are available in 550-600 units. Syria's rocket artillery has only two types of volley fire systems. These are the Soviet BM-21 “Grad” (about three hundred combat vehicles) and the Chinese “Type 63” (around 200 towed launchers).
The defense of troops on the march and in positions is assigned to military air defense. It has more than one and a half thousand barrel systems, including the Shilka self-propelled ZSU-23-4. In addition, a small number of short-range anti-aircraft missile systems, such as Osa-AK, Strela-1, or Strela-10, were assigned to units of military air defense. At the same time, the total number of air defense missile systems in the military defense is noticeably less than in individual air defense forces (about them a little later).
To combat the enemy’s armored targets, the Syrian soldiers have a fairly wide range of jet and rocket weapons. The easiest of them - RPG-7 rocket launchers and RPG-29 "Vampire" of Soviet production. The exact number of these systems is unknown, however, apparently, the score goes on at least hundreds. In this case, as practice shows, a considerable number of anti-tank grenade launchers were in the hands of insurgents. In addition to the relatively simple and cheap rocket launchers, Syria once bought a mass of Soviet anti-tank missile systems, from “Baby” to “Cornet”. The number of complexes varies considerably: “Tiny” at present, there are no more than a couple of hundred, “Kornets” - about a thousand. A few years ago, Syria acquired two hundred MILAN anti-tank systems from France, but due to political and economic reasons no further purchases of European weapons were made.
Separate missile brigades are armed with operational-tactical missile systems 9K72 "Elbrus" in its export version R-300, 9К52 "Luna-M" and 9-79 "Tochka". The total number of launchers of all three complexes exceeds 50 units. In addition, according to unconfirmed data, from 25 to 50 of R-300 and Luna-M complexes are in storage.
Syrian air forces are divided into several dozen squadrons, subject to the command of the kind of troops. These are 20 units equipped with fighters, interceptors, fighter bombers and reconnaissance aircraft; seven shock squadrons with front-line bombers; seven mixed helicopters (perform transport and impact tasks); five purely attack helicopters; four transport; as well as one training, one EW squadron, and one special helicopter unit for the transport of command. The total strength of the Syrian Air Force is 60 thousands of people. Another 20 thousand can be mobilized within a few weeks. The number of aircraft is estimated at 900-1000 units.
A characteristic difference between the Syrian air force and the Turkish military aircraft is the presence of a large number of specialized front-line attack aircraft. At present, Syrian pilots use Su-90М110 and Su-22МК around 4-24. In addition, over a hundred MiG-23 aircraft, including the BN modification, are in reserve or undergoing modernization. Syria's fighter aircraft is represented by old Soviet MiG-21 aircraft in a fighter and reconnaissance configuration (at least 150 vehicles, some in reserve); the already mentioned MiG-23; MiG-25 and MiG-25Р (up to 40 units); as well as relatively new MiG-29, the total number of which is estimated at 70-80 machines.
The Syrian Air Force helicopter fleet is represented by five types of helicopters. The most massive of them are the Mi-8 and its further development of the Mi-17. More than a hundred of such helicopters are used for transportation tasks, about ten more are equipped with electronic warfare equipment. Impact function assigned to the Soviet / Russian helicopters Mi-24, Mi-2 and French SA-342 Gazelle. The number of modified Mi-2 does not exceed one and a half to two dozen, the rest are in the number of 35-40 pieces each.
Syrian transport aviation uses seven types of aircraft, and some of them (about ten cars) are operated only for the transport of command. Troop transport, in turn, is carried out by one An-24 aircraft, six An-26 and four IL-76М. As a passenger board for the transport of high command are used Tu-134, Yak-40, Dassault Falcon 20 and Dassault Falcon 900.
In light of the methods of warfare in recent decades, special importance is attached to air defense, which is designed to protect units on the march and in positions, as well as important facilities of the troops and the country. Syria realized this in the late seventies and began to build a new air defense system. Air defense troops are a separate branch of the Syrian armed forces. The total number of personnel of air defense troops exceeds 40 thousand people. The troops are divided into two divisions. In addition to them, the Air Defense Forces have two separate regiments armed with Osa-AK and C-300В missile complexes. The remaining units are equipped with Soviet-made air defense systems, including the old C-75 and C-200. It is worth noting that the most massive complex in the Syrian air defense forces is still C-75 (at least 300 units). The second in number - 2K12 "Cube" short range, of which there are about two hundred. The most advanced equipment in the air defense forces are the C-300В and С-300П families, as well as the Buk and Pantsir-С9 37K1 families. It is worth noting that, according to some sources, the latter has already managed to demonstrate its effectiveness in practice, when in June of this year Turkish reconnaissance aircraft RF-4E invaded Syrian airspace and was shot down.
Finally, the naval forces of Syria. Compared to Turkish, they are small and poorly equipped. So, in the Syrian Navy serves only four thousand people. Two and a half more are in reserve. Until recently, as part of the Syrian military fleet there were two submarines of project 633, bought from the USSR, now they are withdrawn from the Navy. Syria's largest surface warships are two Project 159 frigates / patrol vessels, also acquired from the Soviet Union. Ships with a total displacement of more than a thousand tons carry anti-submarine bombers RBU-250 and 400-mm torpedo tubes. There is no built-in missile weaponry; air defense is carried out only at the expense of MANPADS taken on board. The Syrian Navy also has three dozen missile boats. These are Soviet boats of the project 205 Moskit, armed with P-15U Termite missiles (20 units), as well as Iranian Tir, modified to use similar weapons. The list of combat boats is closed by patrol boats of the Soviet project 1400ME (no more than eight) and no more than six Iranian MIG-S-1800s. It is noteworthy that in the Syrian fleet there are relatively many mine minesweepers. Seven ships of this class were purchased from the USSR and belong to projects 1258, 1265 and 266M.
Despite its small size, the Syrian Navy has a naval aviation squadron. It includes more than a dozen anti-submarine helicopters Mi-14PL and five Ka-27PL of similar purpose. In addition, half a dozen Ka-25 helicopters are used as multipurpose machines.
As you can see, the armed forces of Turkey and Syria differ significantly both in qualitative and quantitative terms. Moreover, in some cases even the concepts of the composition of one or another kind of troops are different. For example, in the Syrian air force, in contrast to the Turkish, there are still special front bombers. Turkey, in turn, adopted NATO tactical standards and abandoned this type of winged technology. It is difficult to say whether this decision was correct or not.
It is worth paying special attention to the Turkish fighter-bombers F-16. Turkey has 250 of such machines and it is quite obvious that they will become the main striking force in the event of a full-scale conflict. NATO countries have long preferred to fight from the air and “descend” to ground operations only when the risk of loss of ground forces is reduced to a minimum or when the need arises. Based on such views on the conduct of the war, one can understand the desire of Syria to purchase new anti-aircraft systems: if there are modern air defense systems, the war is unlikely to end with the complete and unconditional success of the attacking side. Proper use of air defense systems by the Syrian military can greatly complicate the lives of Turkish pilots, up to the almost complete impossibility of making bombing missions. Of course, such a development of events seems unlikely due to the obsolescence of most of the Syrian air defense missile systems. At the same time, the Turkish Air Force also can not be called ultramodern. It is worth noting that the Syrian air force in the event of a conflict, most likely, will only defend. It is hardly worth waiting for strikes on the administrative centers of Turkey: a breakthrough to large enemy targets will be associated with too great a risk for Syrian pilots.
As for the naval forces, the Syrian fleet is unlikely to be able to contend with the Turkish. The Turkish Navy significantly lags behind the fleets of leading states, but Syria does not even catch up with Turkey in this regard. Therefore, the Turkish naval forces, if necessary, are able to destroy the Syrian ships and boats right on their bases, including without air support. Unfortunately, there is almost nothing to oppose to Syria on this point, except for the already outdated Termite anti-ship missiles.
The greatest interest for the analysis is the land operation. Perhaps the Turks, looking at the European experience in Libya, will not send their infantry to Syria and entrust the ground part of the war to local insurgents. However, in this case even regular air strikes and artillery may not have the desired effect, at least in the first time. The last months have clearly shown that the forces of Damascus are in no way inferior to the insurgents, and in some cases even win. Therefore, the transfer of responsibility for the ground operation into the hands of the so-called armed opposition threatens to change the nature of the war in the direction of delaying it. Naturally, air support may be of sufficient assistance, but the structure of Syria’s air defense will complicate it considerably. If the Turks do decide to independently advance into Syrian territory, then there they will face serious opposition. In this case, as is often the case, the guarantee of victory will be the experience of soldiers and commanders, as well as coordination of the actions of the troops.
With regards to experience worth remembering history armed forces of Syria and Turkey. So, the Syrian army, starting from its very formation in the forties of the last century, regularly participated in wars. The last major conflict involving Syria is the Gulf War. Turkey last actively fought in the 1974 year, during the fighting in Cyprus. It is quite fair to assume that in such conditions the Syrian military are better prepared, and the high command not only has experience in fighting, but even managed to participate in several wars at once. Accordingly, with regard to the combat experience, Turkey is likely to lose significantly to Syria.
Summing up, it is necessary to say the following: the Syrian and Turkish armies differ considerably, and one country or the other “wins” at individual points. This makes it difficult to make accurate predictions of events. However, forecasting is difficult only if NATO countries refuse to support Turkey in the intervention. If the United States, Britain, Germany and other members of the Alliance decide to help Ankara in its “struggle for the freedom of the Syrian people,” then the result of a military conflict is likely to be sad both for the current Syrian leadership and for the whole country.
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