The U.S. Patriot air defense system, which is seen in the photo, was deployed by NATO against an eventual attack from Syria in the beginning of 2013. It was one of the systems competing for Turkey’s long-range anti-missile and air defense systems. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
NATO member Turkey has chosen a Chinese defense firm that has been sanctioned by Washington to co-produce a $4 billion long-range air and missile defense system, rejecting rival bids from Russian, United States, French
and Italian firms.
With the decision, announced today following a meeting of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries' executive council, which is headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ankara
approved the lowest offer despite worries about the Chinese system’s ultimate compatibility with NATO-owned early warning assets.
CPMIEC (China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp.) submitted an offer for its HQ-9 that included co-production solutions – which was requested by Turkish authorities – at a reported $3 billion.
The other bidders were the U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot air defense system; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300; and the Italian-French consortium Eurosam, maker of the SAMP/T Aster 30.
In February, the United States announced sanctions on CPMIEC for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
It did not say precisely what CPMIEC had done, but Washington has penalised the company before. In 2003, Washington said it was extending sanctions on the firm for arms sales to Iran. It was unclear when those measures were first imposed.
Officials at state-run CPMIEC, the marketing arm of China's missile manufacturing industry, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Turkey, which has the second-largest deployable military force in the NATO
alliance, has no long-range missile defense system of its own, but NATO
has deployed the U.S.-built Patriot air and missile defense system there since 2012.
The winning Chinese FD-2000 system beat the Patriot, the Russian
S-400 and the French-Italian Eurosam Samp-T.
Raytheon Co, which builds the Patriot missile system, said it had been informed about the Turkish decision and hoped to get a briefing soon. It said there were 200 Patriot units deployed in 12 countries, including Turkey.
"NATO has long supported the system, deploying Patriots in five aligned countries and, in 2012, providing a requested Patriot deployment to Turkey. Given this strong performance, we hope to have an opportunity to debrief and learn more about this decision," Raytheon spokesman Mike Doble said.
Made in China
CPMIEC does not make missiles itself. The two main manufacturers are China
Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC) and China
Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC). CASC makes intercontinental ballistic missiles, while CASIC focuses on short- and intermediate-range rockets.
After decades of steep military spending increases and cash injections into local contractors, experts say some Chinese-made equipment is now comparable to Russian
or Western weaponry.
China last year became the world's fifth-biggest arms supplier with 5 percent of the market, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Pakistan was its biggest buyer.