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Turkey is highly likely to sign a deal to co-produce its first long-range anti-missile system with a Chinese firm in six months, a senior defense ministry official has said, dismissing concerns from NATO and the prospect of U.S. sanctions for the company.
“Almost all the production of the missiles would take place in Turkey,” Undersecretary of Defense Industries of Turkey Murad Bayar told reporters on Oct 3. The U.S. sanctions on China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) “does not legally affect” Turkey, Bayar said.
Addressing another possible concern of the U.S. regarding the leaking of technological know-how to a third country, China in this case, Bayar said: “Turkey is a country which entirely complies with international commitments, therefore never shares technology or products acquired from a third country and produced in Turkey given final user license.”
Turkey has been carrying out projects with more than one country, and necessary measures were taken to protect this information, he noted.
Bayar stressed that Turkey had no concerns regarding the Chinese system being inter-operable with the Turkish air defense system, but also supported any joint operation with NATO.
The Turkish defense industry would produce its own “integration server” to connect the anti-missile system to its domestic air defense system, so that there would be no exchange of operational data with the Chinese company, he said.
“This is entirely compatible with NATO standards,” Bayar added.
Moreover, the “communication system” would also be domestically produced, Bayar said, referring to whether the system was needed for any joint Turkey-NATO operation abroad.
“There is no obligation to buy the system from NATO member countries,” Bayar stated.
He recalled that new NATO member eastern-bloc countries were still using earlier eastern-bloc defense systems.
The Chinese company placed the lowest bid of $3.44 billion for the tender, while other rival companies from Russia, the U.S. and Europe offered above $4 billion, the official said.
Bayar said the Franco-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T system came second and Raytheon Co., a U.S. company that builds the Patriot missiles, was third. A Russian bid had been eliminated, Bayar said. If Turkey and the Chinese company could not finalize the missile deal then Ankara would start contract talks with the second firm in the shortlist, Eurosam, he added.
The Chinese company offered the most serious home production support, Bayar said, adding that Turkey would continue to expand its capacity of domestic defense production. Moreover the Chinese offer had the best schedule to activate the system, which would be finalized in four years after signing the deal, he said.
The deal includes the launch of 288 anti-missiles in four systems in the Turkish territory Hurriyet Daily
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