Turkey reaches ‘certain clarity’ on national missile defense system

Turkey reaches ‘certain clarity’ on national missile defense system

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkey reaches ‘certain clarity’ on national missile defense system Turkey has reached “certain clarity” on the decision for a tender on its long-range missile defense system, Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) head İsmail Demir has said.

“We are reviewing several parameters. We want to make a decision without a further extension,” he said, speaking at a Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) panel on Oct. 26.

The negotiations over Turkey’s long-range missile defense system were held up by technical reasons, not because Turkey was stalling or had changed its mind, the chief procurement officer added. 

A reversal in the procurement is out of question, but the talks have moved beyond initial price point or technical requirement discussions to the parameters of “what can we do with whom and with whom can Turkey have long-term cooperation,” Demir said. 

“In this procurement process, Turkey wants several of its actors in the industry to get involved, get into partnerships when necessary and gain maximum technical competence while working with foreign actors,” he stated.  

One of the offers included a financial model but two others did not, Demir said, noting obtaining financing was advantageous but there were no financing problems for this project, therefore a financing package was not “essential” at the moment. 

The deputy chairman of Turkish defense producer Aselsan, Mustafa Kaval, for his part, said earlier bids had not included much technology transfer and were composed of production packages, adding the current negotiations were continuing with an “increasing technology transfer” focus.

Ankara selected a Chinese company in September 2013 to build its air defense architecture, but immediately came under heavy pressure from its Western allies for the decision. It also opened parallel negotiations this summer with a European contender in the multi-billion-dollar competition. 

Following an assessment by Turkey’s top defense procurement agency, the Defense Industry Executive Committee selected China’s CPMIEC as the best bidder and Eurosam second. 

A U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin came third in the bidding.

NATO-deployed Patriots didn’t cover border: Aselsan official 

Patriot missiles deployed by NATO were not capable of meeting Turkey’s air defense requirements in the region, Kaval said, noting they realized the “range of the missile were not covering the region when the systems arrived [in Turkey].” 

“When those Patriot systems arrived, they indicated they didn’t cover the entire region and were not suitable to meet our ballistic missile defense requirements in that region,” Kaval said.

Recalling a Syrian missile which crossed Turkey’s border and hit the southern Reyhanlı district in March 2015, causing a debate over why Patriots had not intervened at the time, the Aselsan official said they “were not surprised.”

“Because the missile had nothing to do with the range [covered by where the] Patriot batteries were located anyway,” he stated.

The case showed that Turkey needs its own ballistic missile defense systems, he said.

The U.S. and German Patriot missiles were removed in October and only Spanish batteries are currently on duty as part of the NATO mission in the region.