Turkey is open to an improvised bid from its preferred bidder China in a long-range missile defense system tender, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, ahead of a visit to Beijing. U.S. and European allies want Turkey to use a system that is compatible with NATO’s air defense and because they are worried about inherent security risks from Chinese technology.
In 2013, Turkey chose China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp as the preferred candidate for the US$3.4 billion deal, stirring U.S. and Western concern about security and the compatibility of the weaponry with NATO systems.
In March 2015, China confirmed an agreement to sell the HQ-9 air defense missile system to Turkey. A representative of China National Precision Machinery Import & Export Corporation said it was well-known that the Chinese FD-2000 system, a HQ-9 model for export, was chosen for the contract with Turkey in 2013.
According to a Turkish defense industry official, Ankara has not yet taken a final decision on its planned long-range missile defense system and contract talks with China are continuing.
The other contenders for the contract were the Patriot made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin in the US, theSAMP/T made by the French-Italian consortium Eurosam, and Russia’s Antey-2500 made by Rosoboronexport.
After Turkey announced the decision to award the contract to China, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said a few days later that he expected Turkey to choose a system that was compatible with those of other allies.
In recent years, China and Turkey have enjoyed the steady development of their bilateral trade relations, with China becoming Turkey’s second largest source of imports and its third largest trading partner.