Undersecretary for Defense Industries (SSM) Ismail Demir said on Monday that Turkey's negotiations with bidding companies for a missile defense system has grown in maturity and Ankara is close to reaching a decision phase in the long-range missile bid. Speaking on a panel titled "Strategic Air Defense System and Turkey's Roadmap," which was organized by the Ankara based think tank Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), Demir said that at this point, negotiations are continuing, taking the technology transfer and joint production into consideration. Responding to a question about whether there has been a change in the content of the project, Demir said that although there have not been any changes made to the project, the current discussions are beyond the debates from 2013, which were mainly on price or technical specifications. "We have taken the assessments to a point where we will decide with whom and how we can achieve success and what the long-term cooperation opportunities are," Demir added.
Underlining that domestic defense industries are taking part in the negotiations on a technical level, Demir said that it requires long technical negotiations in efforts to determine at what stage a domestic firm can contribute, and so the assessment process has extended.
Explaining that he does not evaluate Turkey's T-loradmis bid as a usual bid, Demir said it is at a stage to reach long-term goals and emphasized that they have reached a critical stage in making the decision on the bids. "We are trying to make a decision after analyzing multiple parameters," he said. In response to a question about what the finance model would be for the bid, he said that one of the proposals also includes financing and that although it is a plus, it is not the most important criterion in making the decision, and added that the project does not have a financing problem.
In September 2013 Turkey's SSM executive committee had chosen the state-run China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC) FD-2000 long-range air and missile defense systems over Western competitors including the Italian-French Eurosam's SAMP/T Aster 30 system and the Russian Rosoboronexport's S300. Government officials announced they preferred the Chinese offer due to its competitiveness and potential for co-production in Turkey. The Chinese company offered the most competitive price at $3.4 billion and promised high technology transfer, but negotiations have not concluded in the last two years. Moreover, Ankara's decision to buy the Chinese missile system as a NATO member country caused criticism due to the fact that the Chinese system is incompatible with NATO systems and also raised concerns about China's possibility to infiltrate the NATO systems.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently hinted that the contract is about to be finalized and these questions will be answered soon. "The Chinese president will be in Turkey for the G20 summit in November and we will discuss this issue. France, on the other hand, updated their offer. [French] President [François] Hollande sent me a letter regarding this issue via Prime Minister [Ahmet] Davutoğlu when they meet in New York for the U.N. General Assembly. As Turkey, our main concerns in this missile bid are joint production and technology transfer," Erdoğan said on Oct. 10.
The final decision about the missile contract will be made in the Defense Industry Executive Committee meeting chaired by Davutoğlu. The executive committee is expected to be held before the end of this year after the formation of a government following the Nov. 1 election.
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