Turkey could scrap a controversial plan to buy missile defense systems from China, which alarmed the U.S. and its Western allies, Turkish and European sources said Wednesday. Key NATO member Turkey said in September 2013 that it was entering negotiations with the China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corporation (CPMIEC) to acquire its first long-range anti-missile systems. But the plan has deeply concerned the U.S., which has already imposed sanctions on the Chinese company for supplying arms to Iran and Syria in defiance of an embargo. “Several options are on the table, including a cancellation of the tender” that was won by the Chinese company.
Turkey chose CPMIEC over offers from U.S. firms Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, as well as Russia’s defense exporter Rosoboronexport and the French-Italian consortium Eurosam.
The contract is valued at 2.9 billion euros. Aside from strategic concerns, Turkey’s allies in NATO also expressed worry about the compatibility of the Chinese systems with their own missile defense systems. But Turkey had already admitted to difficulties in negotiations with the Chinese delegation, notably on the transfer of technology and issues of joint production. Joint production is a crucial part of the planned deal as Turkey wants to build its own long-range air defense and anti-missile infrastructure to counter both enemy aircraft and missiles. Turkey was supposed to have announced its final decision in the summer but then invited the Chinese company’s rivals to present revised offers.