Turkey hints at scrapping China missile system deal
Chinese military experts blast Ankara, saying the US$3.4 billion defence contract was dropped due to pressure from US and Nato
Minnie Chan and Reuters in Ankara
A Chinese firm has not met all the conditions set in a tender to build a missile defence system for Turkey, officials in Ankara said on condition of anonymity.
Turkey, which had provisionally awarded the US$3.4 billion contract to a Chinese firm, may begin seeking other offers, the officials noted.
Chinese analysts said Turkey's reasons for backing out of the deal for China's FD-2000 missile defence system were "not convincing". The analysts described Ankara's move as "predictable" and the "result of pressure" from the US and Nato.
Feng Zhongping , director of European studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the assertion about failing to meet tender conditions was "ridiculous."
"As a member of the Nato alliance, Turkey should have the common sense to know its defence system doesn't match [the] Chinese FD-2000 missile system," said Feng. "I think [the] real reason behind Turkey's decision to pull out of the deal … is the great pressure from its Nato allies, with Washington paying close attention to Chinese military technology."
Nato voiced concern when Ankara said in September it had chosen China's HQ-9, or FD-2000 air-defence system, from China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp over the Patriot system from the US firm Raytheon and rival systems from Russia's Rosoboronexport and Italian-French consortium Eurosam.
At the time of the tender, officials said China offered the most competitive terms and allowed for co-production in Turkey.
Feng implied that the Russian system was also being pushed out of the tender as a result of geopolitics, in particular Nato's position towards Russia in Ukraine. Russia's Rosoboronexport revised its offer, but it remains higher than the others and unlikely to win approval.
Beijing-based military expert Xu Guanyu said it was possible Ankara would choose the US Patriot system by default, as both China and Russia had been effectively sidelined.
"Turkey was using China as a bargaining chip to force the US firm to compromise," said Xu, noting that the resulting deal might see Raytheon lower its price and adjust its technology.
On April 30, Ankara extended the bidding for two months. Bids from Eurosam and Raytheon were due to expire on April 30, according to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.
In March, Murad Bayar, a top Turkish defence official, was sacked. Bayar played a key role in negotiations to buy Turkey's first long-range anti-missile system from the Chinese firm.