Turkey's decision on anti-missile system likely in early 2015
Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force's anti-aircraft and ground-to-air missile systems are seen on display ahead of the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, Nov. 10. REUTERS PhotoA final decision on Turkey’s disputed contract for the construction of the country’s first long-range air and anti-missile defense system will most likely come in early 2015, a senior defense official said in an interview with the prominent U.S.-based defense journal Defense News.
After Ankara selected a Chinese company in September 2013 to build the air defense architecture and came under heavy pressure from its Western allies for the decision, it also opened parallel negotiations this summer with a European contender in the multibillion dollar competition.
Contract negotiations with the Chinese manufacturer, China Precision Machinery Import Export Corp (CPMIEC), are also in progress but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said talks have also opened with Eurosam, the European contender in the program.
Following an assessment by Turkey’s top defense procurement agency, the Defense Industry Executive Committee selected CPMIEC as the best bidder, and Eurosam as the second. A U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin came third in the bidding. CPMIEC offered a solution with a price tag of $3.44 billion.
“Since [the initial decision was made], our [experts] have engaged with contract negotiations with the first company. We have also engaged in a discussion with the second, the [runner-up]. So the final extension has been given [for] the end of the year. I believe that by the end of the year, a final assessment will be briefed to the [Defense Industry] Executive Committee, and the executive committee will give the final decision. That is the current plan,” Sedat Güldoğan, deputy undersecretary at the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), told Defense News in an interview.
The Defense Industry Executive Committee is chaired by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and its other members are Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and the top defense procurement official, İsmail Demir, head of the SSM.
Commenting on another multibillion-dollar defense contract, Güldoğan said Turkey was not happy with the progress of the multinational Joint Strike Fighter program.
“The program itself has some difficulties price-wise, schedule-wise, development activities. Nine countries are together. [There are] three variants of the aircraft. We understand the difficulties, but these days we can’t say that the program is on track again. So I hope that in the near future, we will be having our aircraft and getting the capabilities to Turkey. These days we are concerned on the sustainment phase. We hope that there will be more and more [work for] Turkish [industry],” Güldoğan told Defense News.
Turkey, a partner of the JSF program that manufactures the new generation F-35 fighter jet, plans to buy 100 aircraft in the next 10 years, spending around $16 billion. Earlier this year, Ankara officially placed an order for the first two aircraft.