Turkey extends missile defense bids further
ANKARA - Reuters
A German Patriot missile launcher is seen in front of a mosque in Kahramanmaraş, southern Turkey. AFP PhotoTurkey has extended the validity of bids in a multi-billion dollar missile defense system tender for the second time despite having provisionally awarded the deal to China, a senior Turkish defense official said.
Turkey’s NATO allies voiced concern when it said in September it had chosen China’s FD-2000 missile defence system over rival offers from Franco-Italian Eurosam and U.S.-listed Raytheon Co. It said China offered the most competitive terms and would allow co-production in Turkey.
The official said the bids from Eurosam and Raytheon, which was due to expire on April 30, would be extended for a further two months.
“Their bids will be valid until June 30,” the official said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Pressure on private sector
European and U.S. defense companies have been reportedly pressuring Turkey’s defense industry giants to dissuade Turkey from choosing a Chinese firm.
Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Eurosam have been holding talks with C-level executives of local defense companies, like military electronics specialist Aselsan, defense software specialist Havelsan, missile manufacturer Roketsan and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), according to information obtained from sources close to the matter.
According to sources, European and American companies, which have billion-dollar joint projects with the Turkish companies at issue, gave an ultimatum to Turkish companies, saying “If Turkey buys missiles from China, our partnerships in certain fields will be over.”
Foreign companies reportedly also said they would give consent to co-production, which has been one of Turkey’s top priorities, but not at the extent that China agreed.
The deal would mark a breakthrough for China in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons. But Turkish officials have said for months that it was not a foregone conclusion that Ankara would end up signing the $3.4 billion deal with China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC).
U.S. and NATO officials are unhappy with Turkey’s choice of CPMIEC, which is under U.S. sanctions for selling items to Iran, Syria or North Korea that are banned under U.S. laws to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Turkey said in November it aimed to make a definitive decision on the air and missile defence system deal in around six months.