Us Seeks to Undercut Turkish Missile Deal

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US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will visit Turkey on 27 Jan, Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed today. The meeting will concentrate on recent developments in Syria and Iraq as well as a recent decision by the Turkish government to purchase Chinese missiles, a move that raised concerns among NATO members.

Last September, Turkey's Undersecretariat for Defense Industries' (SSM) executive committee had chosen China's FD-2000 long-range air and missile defense systems over Western competitors including the Italian-French Eurosam's SAMP/T Aster 30 system and the Russian Rosoboronexport's S300. Although government officials announced that they preferred the Chinese offer due to its competitiveness and potential for co-production in Turkey, Ankara's decision raised concerns in the US and other NATO countries.

Chinese manufacturer of the FD-2000 missile system, the state-run CPMIEC, has been in the US State Department's sanctions list since February 2013 due to proliferation concerns. Likewise, other NATO countries raised objections against Turkey's move, claiming that missile systems within the transatlantic military alliance must be compatible with each other.

Furthermore, the recently passed US Defense Authorization Bill could undercut Turkey's Missile defense deal with China. The National Defense Authorization Act that the US Congress passed last month contains a clause barring the use of "2014 funds to integrate the missile defense systems of the People's Republic of China into US missile defense systems."

In response to US and NATO concerns, Turkey did not finalize the deal with the Chinese company and noted that it remains open to new offers. "There is no deadline for new offers, we like to hear new offers as long as we haven't signed a deal," said Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz on 26 Dec.

Meanwhile, US defense industry giants including Raytheon and Lockheed Martin companies announced that they are prepared to provide alternative systems if the Turkish government is willing to reconsider its earlier decision. NATO and the United States expressed their concerns several times against the interoperability of the Chinese system with NATO systems.

Sabah English, January 14, 2014

Related topics : Turkey NATO China