S-400 missiles vs Rafale jets could soon be a reality as Turkey could possibly deploy Russian S-400 air defence systems in Libya to counter the French & Egyptian air force which includes the Mirage and Rafale jets.
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Turkey has been on the receiving end of attacks by Rafale jets in Libya and is looking to activate the Russian S-400 missiles as a countermeasure.
As reported by EurAsian Times earlier, Rafale jets dodged radars and Turkish air defence systems and bombed the Al-Watiya airbase in Libya. Al-Watiya airbase is used by Ankara and houses Turkish F-16s, Bayraktar B2, Anka S-drones and is defended by MIM-23 Hawk air defence system.
The fact that Rafale jets were able to bomb the Al-Watiya base with relative ease has generated discussions in Turkey to deploy the formidable Russian S-400 missiles in Libya.
As consistently reported by the EurAsian Times, the S-400 is one of the most advanced missile defence systems in the world that can detect, track and destroy aerial targets in a range of 400 km. It is designed to neutralize aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and can also be used against ground installations.
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Although Turkey acquired the Russian S-400 air defence systems, Ankara has not decided to activate the missiles due to various geopolitical factors. Currently, Ankara has deployed a combination of medium-range U.S.-made MIM-23 Hawk missile systems, Hisar short-range SAMs, and Korkut antiaircraft guns in Libya.
The Turkish military build-up in Libya allowed the Government of National Accord (GNA), backed by Turkey, Qatar and Italy, to go on the offensive against Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalil Haftar and supported by France, Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the UAE.
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However, thanks to the advanced Rafale jets the bubble has burst and the limitations of current Turkish air defence systems have been exposed and the need for S-400s seems to be arising.
S-400 vs Rafale Jets
Basel Haj Jasem, an expert on Russian-Turkish relations believes that the deployment of S-400 in Libya would be a win-win for Ankara. Not only would the S-400 missiles be capable to neutralise the French Rafale’s, but it would also allow Turkey to evade U.S. sanctions.
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Washington has threatened Ankara with sanctions and suspended Turkey from the programme to build and operate the latest F-35 jets last year after Turkey bought the S-400s from Moscow. The US disapproves the S-400 purchase by Turkey and argues that it is not compatible with NATO systems and threatens the stealth capabilities of the new fighter jets.
The United States has asked Turkey to sell S-400 missiles to a third party, to deploy them in another country or pledge in writing not to activate the system.
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According to Jasem, one of the most beneficial scenarios that may be accepted by the three main parties is deploying the S-400 system in Libya in line with the security and military agreements between Ankara and Tripoli and after agreeing with Moscow and Washington.
He states that since there is more at stake than just a missile system, Turkey wants to maintain a balance between Russia and the US, preferring not to risk its relations either side at the expense of the other.
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The Libyan Civil War has descended into utter chaos. Countries which are otherwise allies are now enemies and countries which are otherwise enemies are now allies. What happens next in Libya is a hard guess, but defence experts would keep a close watch and see if the French Rafale jets dare to take on the ‘impregnable’ Russian S-400 air defence systems.