Turkey, frustrated with West, eyes China missile defense system
ANKARA — Turkey, amid tense relations with the West, has been mulling procurement of a ballistic missile defense system from China.
Industry sources said the Defense Industry Undersecretariat, known as SSM, was examining China's proposal for its HQ-9 system. They said the state-owned China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp. has offered significant technology transfer as well as co-production options.
China's HQ-9 missile defense system.
"The most attractive part of the Chinese offer is that it is much cheaper than its competitors," a source said. "This would also enable Turkey to eventually produce its own BMD systems."
HQ-9 has been one of four finalists in Turkey's multi-billion-dollar BMD tender, called T-Loramids. The others were identified as PAC-3 of Lockheed Martin, Aster-30 of Eurosam and the S-300PMU2 by Russia.
"The feeling within SSM is that the Chinese system could be good enough in any first stage to develop a BMD system," the source said.
Until 2012, the PAC-3 was regarded as the frontrunner of the Turkish tender. But the sources said Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has been frustrated by the U.S. refusal to provide significant financial grants as well as technology.
The sources said Erdogan, who delayed a decision over the last two years, has been threatening to select a non-NATO system. They said the prime minister has demanded that all of the finalists submit coproduction offers.
About 50 percent of Turkey's radars were supplied by NATO during and after the Cold War. The sources said a Chinese or Russian BMD system would be unable to communicate with the NATO assets.
"The assessment is that Erdogan is bluffing, because if he chooses a Chinese or Russian system he would be unable to integrate it with his U.S. air fleet," the source said.