ANKARA — Turkey's top procurement official has said that Ankara has reached a "certain clarity" in its pending decision on a multibillion-dollar contract for the construction of the country's first long-range air and anti-missile defense system.
"We are reviewing several parameters," said Ismail Demir, head of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM). "We want to make a decision without a further extension."
He said that the negotiations with contenders over the contract were held up by technical reasons, not because Turkey was stalling or had changed its mind.
Demir said a reversal in the procurement is out of question, but the talks have moved beyond initial price-point or technical-requirement discussions to the parameters of "what can we do with whom and with whom can Turkey have long-term cooperation."
"In this procurement process, Turkey wants several of its actors in the industry to get involved, get into partnerships when necessary and gain maximum technical competence while working with foreign actors," he said.
But one senior government official said that an imminent decision on the competition was unlikely "before a new government has been formed and started to function properly."
"The [current] interim government will not make a decision on the contract," he said. "Don't expect a decision before a new government has taken over."
Turkey has been ruled by a caretaker government since indecisive elections results on June 7. New parliamentary elections will take place on Nov. 1.
In September 2013, Turkey selected China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. (CPMIEC) for the program dubbed T-LORAMIDS. But, 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. CPMIEC's offer was at $3.44 billion.
"Talks with all three contenders are continuing," the senior government official said.
Burak Ege Bekdil was the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.