China missile deal with Turkey could be thwarted by US

Chinese firm’s bid to sell arms to Nato member may be scuttled by US interference, analysts say

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 October, 2013, 11:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 October, 2013, 3:40am

China's chances of selling its missile-defence system to Turkey may be affected if the United States agrees to offer Ankara a full technology transfer along with its F-35 jet fighter, analysts say.

Murad Bayar, a Turkish defence official, has been quoted by the Hurriyet Daily News as saying that Ankara would renew an order for an intial two F-35 fighter jets by mid-January.

Dr Serhat Guvenc, a professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, said Turkey had been asking for full access to F-35 mission software, as part of its pursuit of a home-grown advanced fighter jet.

The F-35 order had been suspended in January because the US had refused to provide adequate access to the aircraft software's source codes.

"Ankara at best could expect to [ask for] better terms [from Washington] for access to F-35 mission software in exchange for giving up on the Chinese missiles," Guvenc said.

"Otherwise, it may face suspension of its participation in the F-35 programme, as happened to Israel back in 2005 to 2006 over its controversial arms deal with China, which was not approved by Washington."

Last month, Turkey, a member of the Nato alliance, announced it had chosen the HQ-9 air-defence system from China Precision Machinery Import-Export (CPMIEC), over US firm Raytheon's Patriot system and rival systems from Russia's Rosoboronexport and Italian-French consortium Eurosam.

CPMIEC is under US sanctions. It is believed Ankara chose the Chinese firm because it offers a lower price and will share the technology of its HQ-9 system.

Liu Jiansheng , a research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, said US pressure was understandable. "The US would not allow its defence system to be ruined by Chinese missiles. If Washington decides to undermine the deal, it's almost impossible for Beijing and Ankara to finalise it," he said.

But Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said China still had a good chance of completing the missile deal, because the United States was distracted by its debt crisis.