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ANKARA — The Turkish government has announced that it will not integrate its planned long-range air and anti-missile defense system with NATO assets stationed in the country.

In reply to a parliamentary question motion, Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said Feb. 19 that the system would instead be integrated with the national systems. "It will be used without being integrated with NATO systems," Yilmaz said in a written statement.

He said that the integration of the planned system with the Turkish Armed Forces' command-and-control structure would be done locally by a company authorized by the government.

Yilmaz said that the program would be paid for by foreign financing and that there were no new bids from the contenders.

In September 2013, Turkey selected China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. (CPMIEC) for a $3.44 billion offer. About half of Turkey's network-based air defense picture has been paid for by NATO. The country is part of NATO's air defense ground environment. Without NATO's consent, it will be impossible for Turkey to make the planned Chinese system operable with these assets, some analysts say.

NATO and US officials have said any Chinese-built system could not be integrated with Turkey's joint air defense assets with NATO and the United States. They also have warned that any Turkish company that acts as local subcontractor in the program would face serious US sanctions because CPMIEC has been sanctioned under the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

After increased pressure from NATO allies, Ankara opened parallel talks with the second- and third-comers in the bidding — the European Eurosam, maker of the Aster 30, and the US Raytheon/Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot system.

In September, for a fifth time, Turkey extended the deadline for all three bidders to Dec. 31. The Jan. 7 decision to extend the deadline for another six months is the sixth extension.

The Turkish program consists of radar, launcher and interceptor missiles. It has been designed to counter enemy aircraft and missiles. Turkey has no long-range air defense systems.

Email: bbekdil@defensenews.com.

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