While discussions on Turkey's long-awaited, billion-dollar, long-range air and missile defense system continue, high-level sources in Ankara signaled that Turkey may have to cancel the tender and start a new process that aims for co-production if it cannot get satisfactory results for technology transfer from ongoing negotiations.
The result of Turkey's long-range air and missile defense system has been eagerly awaited since the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) announced in September 2013 that it preferred the Chinese offer due to its competitiveness and potential for co-production in Turkey. Recently, discussions had gained a new dimension when Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz wrote in response to a parliamentary question about the tender that the missile system "will not be integrated" with NATO's missile defense system. However, a few days later, presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın clarified the situation saying that Turkey will make its newly planned long-range missiles compatible with NATO systems. "As one of the most important countries in NATO's security line, we will definitely ensure this integration and harmony," Kalın stressed.
Meanwhile high-level sources in Ankara said that Turkey's Defense Ministry started a new process that included canceling the tender and making a new call to international manufacturers for co-production in the case of failure in the ongoing negotiations with the bidder companies, especially regarding the technology transfer issue. Turkey is currently continuing negotiations with the Chinese manufacturer of the HQ-9 missile system, however, sources indicated that Turkish officials demanded further cooperation and technology transfer and underlined that current conditions concerning technology transfer are not sufficient for Turkey. The air defense system tender is one of the biggest projects of the Turkish defense industry and the government considers technology transfer and co-production a vital part of the project. In case of cancellation of the tender, the defense ministry is not planning to start another tender process. Instead, the ministry will invite all international manufacturers, including Russian and U.S. companies, to discuss the new terms for co-production in Turkey. Sources also indicate that they are aware of possible delays in the project in the case of cancellation and therefore they will consider this move as the last option. However, Ankara sees technology transfer as an "indispensable condition" for Turkey and because of this they would like keep the cancellation option on the table.