ANKARA — Turkey’s highest defense procurement decision-makers failed July 17 to select a winner in the contest to provide the country’s Long Range Air and Missile Defense Systems, worth up to $4 billion.
According to a statement from Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, talks will continue with four key foreign companies vying to supply the systems. Yilmaz is a member of the Defense Executive Council, along with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the chief of the military’s General Staff and the head of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries.
Competitors for the missile system include U.S. partners Raytheon and Lockheed Martin with their Patriot-based system; Eurosam with its SAMP/T Aster 30; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the country’s S-300 systems; and the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp., offering its HQ-9. Eurosam’s shareholders include MBDA — jointly owned by British BAE Systems, Italian Finmeccanica and pan-European EADS — and France’s Thales. These companies will work with Turkish partners.
All of the systems proposed are, in theory, capable of hitting an incoming aircraft or missile. Turkey has no long-range air defense systems.
On June 22, a Turkish RF-4E reconnaissance fighter was shot down by Syria. The Syrian Foreign Ministry said the plane was hit by a barrage of short-range anti-aircraft machine-gun fire, but some analysts suggested the aircraft may have been struck by a Russian missile. This was not confirmed. Erdogan is going to Russia for a one-day visit July 19.
Many Western officials and experts say selecting the Russian and the Chinese systems, which are not compatible with NATO systems, might inadvertently provide the contract winner with access to classified NATO information and, as a result, may compromise NATO’s procedures.
But despite this criticism, Turkey so far has ruled there is no need to exclude the Chinese and Russian options from the competition.