German Patriot missile launchers are deployed at the Gazi barracks in Kahramanmaras, southern Turkey on March 25. Turkey is seeking to purchase its own air defense system. (JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP/Getty Images)
ANKARA — For a fifth time since September, Turkey’s procurement authorities extended a deadline for all three bidders in a disputed air defense contract to submit their renewed proposals.
Turkey’s procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), said on Tuesday that the new deadline was set for Dec. 31. The previous deadline was this coming Sunday.
SSM said it is natural for its assessment of bids to take a long time “due to the very complex nature of the program.”
US and European bidders have been trying to snatch the contract from their Chinese rival, which Turkey selected in September in its first program to build a long-range air and anti-missile defense system.
The bidders for the air defense contract 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 country’s first long-range air and anti-missile defense system. CPMIEC’s bid was priced at $3.44 billion.
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.
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. But industry sources say the US offer recently has gained ground because it has a more favorable delivery timetable than Eurosam’s. ■