ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's government scrapped a $3.44 billion program to construct the country's first long-range air and anti-missile defense system.
Procurement officials said that a decision for the cancellation of a three-way, Chinese-European-US race was looming already.
"The decision will be formalized at the next meeting of the committee." The committee is the Defense Industry Executive Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Senior government officials said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pushed for the cancellation of the program at a meeting early in November.
The officials said the cancellation will not mean that Turkey will not take foreign know-how; some systems can also be purchased from a partner as a bridge-gap solution.
The contract will now most likely become indigenous as the government considers commissioning the work to military electronics specialist Aselsan, Turkey's biggest defense firm, and missile maker Roketsan. Both companies are state controlled.
Only a few weeks ago, Turkey's top procurement official, Ismail Demir, said that Ankara reached a "certain clarity" in its pending decision on the air defense system. "We are reviewing several parameters. We want to make a decision without a further extension," Demir said.
In September 2013 Turkey selected China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. for the program, dubbed T-LORAMIDS. CPMIEC's offer came at $3.44 billion.
Under pressure from its NATO allies Turkey also launched parallel talks with two Western rivals, a partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, maker of the Patriot system, and the European Eurosam, maker of the SAMP/T.