Bolstering technology Turkey’s priority in missile deal, says official
ISTANBULTurkey’s top priority when procuring its first long-range missile defense system is to bolster its own technological ability, a defense official said on Feb. 27, as reported by Reuters.
Turkey has chosen a Chinese company as the preferred bidder for the $3.4 billion project, but is also pressing ahead with talks with U.S. and European firms as questions remain about the Chinese proposal, particularly concerning the technology transfer to boost the local defense industry.
“We would like this system to equip us with a certain capability. We would want the system we have to be the most advanced in 10-15 years’ time,” Undersecretary for Defense Industries İsmail Demir said at a defense exporters’ meeting in Istanbul, according to Reuters.
He also said Turkey was in contact with Russia regarding the project, but there have been no formal talks. Sources told Reuters on Feb. 26 that Russia had renewed its interest in the project.
Turkey’s Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said last week the country does not plan to integrate a new missile defense system with NATO infrastructure and officials said a $3.4 billion deal with China was still under consideration.
Yılmaz, in a written response to a parliamentary question, indicated that Ankara planned to go ahead with the Chinese system, saying the evaluation of bids had been completed and no new offers have been received.
Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın, however, on Feb. 23 said Turkey will make its planned new long-range missiles compatible with NATO’s systems.
“As one of the most important countries in NATO’s security line, we will definitely ensure this integration and harmony,” Kalın said.
After Ankara selected a Chinese company in September 2013 to build the air defense architecture, it came under heavy pressure from its Western allies due to the decision.