November 17, 2015 / 2:06 PM / 2 years ago

Turkey confirms cancellation of defense system project awarded to China

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has canceled a $3.4 billion tender awarded provisionally to China to develop a long-range missile defense system, the defense ministry said on Tuesday, a project that had stirred the concern of Ankara’s NATO allies.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by his daughter Sumeyye Erdogan (2nd L), poses with his supporters as he leaves from Eyup Sultan mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, November 2, 2015. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir

Turkey, which had chosen China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp as the preferred candidate, has decided to focus instead on developing a defense system with domestic resources, a ministry statement said.

An official from Turkey’s Defence Industry Undersecretariat, which ran the technical negotiations with China, said in July a major stumbling block had been China’s reluctance to make a technology transfer that could give Turkey the knowledge to operate the system and eventually replicate it.

An official at the Turkish prime minister’s office had told Reuters on Sunday the tender had been withdrawn.

“The (defense industry) committee decided to cancel the existing project and focus on work to develop our long-range air and missile defense system with domestic resources,” said the statement carried by the ministry’s website.

Turkey had given mixed messages on whether it was planning to integrate the Chinese-made system with NATO infrastructure or not, and U.S. and European allies had wanted Turkey to use a system compatible with NATO’s air defense.

During the tender, U.S. firm Raytheon put in an offer with its Patriot missile defense system. Franco-Italian group Eurosam, owned by the multinational European missile maker MBDA and France’s Thales, came second in the tender.

Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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