Turkey Abandons China Deal to Buy $3.4 Billion Arms System

  • Plan now is to develop own long-range missile defense system
  • China's CPMIEC made top bid in tender, Turkey decided in 2013

Turkey canceled a long-delayed plan to buy a missile defense system and will develop its own instead. 

The country, which has the largest army in NATO after the U.S., picked China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp.’s $3.4 billion bid as the best offer in 2013. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu signed the decree to cancel the project, a government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information isn’t public. 

Plans to purchase and co-produce the system were conceived about a decade ago and deadlines for companies to offer revised bids have been repeatedly extended as Turkey’s decision drew criticism that the Chinese system would be incompatible with NATO. Turkey remained in talks with U.S. firms Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co. and French-Italian partnership Eurosam GIE for the project, Ismail Demir, head of defense industry under-secretariat said in October, adding that all options were still on the table.

“Bottom line: Turkey needs a NATO inter-operable system, and China does not have it,” Aaron Stein, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, said by e-mail. “The idea was always that Ankara would eventually develop a local system using the technical know-how gleaned from the long-range missile defense system project.”

The Chinese company had proposed the FD-2000 system, its equivalent of the U.S. Patriot technology, Merve Seren, an analyst with Ankara think-tank Seta, wrote in a report last month.

China made the best offer and also agreed to manufacture parts of the system in Turkey while falling short of Turkey’s demand for 50 percent local production. The Chinese offer would also create a $1.1 billion business for Turkey’s state-owned defense companies Roketsan, Aselsan and Ayesas.

In response to criticism, Turkey said in the past that it wouldn’t seek to integrate the Chinese system with NATO.

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