A Patriot missile launcher is seen in front of a mosque in southern Turkey. Turkey has again extended a deadline for bids for a long-range air and missile defense system. (AFP / John Macdougall)
ANKARA — US and European bidders racing to snatch a controversial Turkish contract from their Chinese rival now have until June 30 to submit their renewed proposals, following two three-month extensions instituted by Turkey.
After the previous extension, the bidders had until the end of April to submit bids for Turkey’s first long-range air- and anti-missile defense system, for which it initially selected a Chinese manufacturer.
The bidders comprise a partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, makers of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 system, and the European group Eurosam, maker of the Aster 30 missile.
In September, Turkey said it selected China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. (CPMIEC) to build the system. CPMIEC’s bid was priced at $3.44 billion, according to Murad Bayar, then-Turkey’s top procurement official.
Turkey has been in contract negotiations with CPMIEC, but under increasing pressure from its NATO allies, it also has urged rival US and European bidders to improve their offers.
“We expect the [non-Chinese] bidders to improve their proposals and for that a new extension was necessary,” a senior procurement official said.
Western industry sources said Turkey also aimed to gain time before the new procurement chief warms up to the bidding.
The Turkish government appointed in April Ismail Demir, an aviation expert, as new head of the procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries. Demir’s predecessor, Bayar, had run the agency for 10 years.
Turkey said in September that Eurosam’s offer ranked second while the US solution came third. The fourth bidder, the Russian maker of the S-300/400, was eliminated from the contest. ■