ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey’s top priority when procuring its first long-range missile defense system is to bolster its own technological ability, a defense official said on Friday.
Turkey has chosen a Chinese company as the preferred bidder for the $3.4 billion project but is also pressing ahead with talks with U.S. and European firms as questions remain about the Chinese proposal, particularly over the technology transfer to boost the local defense industry.
“We would like this system to equip us with a certain capability. We would want the system we have to be the most advanced in 10-15 years time,” Undersecretary for Defence Industries Ismail Demir said at a meeting in Istanbul.
Demir also said Turkey was in contact with Russia regarding the project but there have been no formal talks. Sources told Reuters on Thursday that Russia had renewed its interest in the project.
NATO member Turkey chose China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp in 2013 as the preferred bidder, prompting U.S. and Western concern about security and the compatibility of the weaponry with NATO systems.
Turkey’s defense minister said last week it did not plan to integrate the system with NATO infrastructure, only for the presidential spokesman to say some days later that the systems would be integrated.
Reporting by Can Sezer; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by David Dolan and Tom Heneghan