LALE – Likely that China will be out of picture in missile talks

Likely that China will be out of picture in missile talksNATO member Turkeyand#39s selection of China back in September 2013 for talks about supplying long-range missile systems triggered a severe reaction from the alliance. NATO cited poor interoperability as well as potential security problems if Turkey signed an agreement with China to acquire a highly aanced and costly missile system Despite strong criticism from the alliance, Turkey continued talks with China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC) over the HQ-9 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system for its T-Loramids, long-range air and missile defense system programTurkey shifted its missile policy a year after it chose CPMIEC.

Ankara announced in early September of this year that it had begun simultaneous talks with Eurosam, a French-Italian partnership and the second-runner in T-Loramids.The Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM), Turkeyand#39s state-owned arms procurement agency, was offered Eurosamand#39s SAMPT system, alongside CPMIEC.

US RaytheonLockheed Martinand#39s Patriot system is the third-ranked bidder for the T-Loramids program The project is estimated to cost around $4 billion.According to Ankara, Turkeyand#39s initial preference of China in talks for the acquisition of T-Loramids was purely technical and stemmed from the fact that CPMIEC reduced its price to $3.

5 billion while coming up with a high technology transferBut in early September, President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan cited a failure of the Chinese bidders to live up to their commitments in the technology transfer offer This prompted Ankara to begin talks with EurosamYet, Ismail Demir, who heads the SSM, told me in October that his talks with Eurosam covered the acquisition of a longer-range missile that involves different layers of defense, although he did not elaborate furtherThis raised the idea that Ankara was seeking to open another tender to acquire a longer-range missile system while planning to cancel T-Loramids.According to speculation in Ankara from well-informed Turkish and Western defense industry sources, if Turkey cancels the T-Loramids, China will no longer be in Turkeyand#39s long-range missile picture.

In a parallel development, Ankara has come under close scrutiny from the US, as Vice Adm Joseph W Rixey, director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), was in the capital almost two weeks ago to petition Turkey to select the Patriot systemEurosamand#39s French partner has already sweetened its offer to Ankara in the form of transferring higher technology, although the details of what this higher transfer would involve are not available.In the meantime, it does not seem a coincidence that French President Franois Hollande made public statements supporting Turkeyand#39s position on safe havens and no-fly zones inside Syria close to the Turkish border Turkeyand#39s conditions for its active participation in a US-led coalitionand#39s ongoing military campaign to defeat radical terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was the creation of safe havens and no-fly zones, but these were rejected by Washington.

There is a strong belief among defense circles that Hollandeand#39s alignment with Turkeyand#39s demands was to increase Eurosamand#39s chance of winning the costly missile project.In fact, Demir made his second publicly known visit to France in the middle of this month to meet Eurosam officials and further discuss the companyand#39s offerThe intensified diplomatic traffic between Ankara, Paris and Washington comes less than two weeks before the SSMand#39s executive committee will meet to decide which system to buy.

The committee is expected to cancel talks with China about the T-Loramids project.The executive committee is headed by the prime minister, the minister of defense and the chief of General Staff.

However, President ErdoIan, then prime minister, put his stamp on the controversial decision to start talks with China on T-Loramids in September 2013. He will definitely influence the executive committeeand#39s decision on Jan.

7 This is despite the fact that Ahmet DavutoIlu is the current prime ministerHence, ErdoIan is said to have changed his mind to the point of canceling talks with China In that case, if the talks with China are canceled, will the acquisition of T-Loramids be replaced by another project for a larger missile program or will Turkey decide to contract local missile company Roketsan to develop a longer-range missile system?Turkey does not yet have a sophisticated defense industry. It does not have the capacity to produce a long-range missile system similar to the Patriot system, even in the long term, because it is highly reliant on foreign manufacturers for military technology.

More importantly, there is no consistent and comprehensive defense industry policy which could mobilize the countryand#39s human resources. Producing military and civilian technology on this scale would require numerous resources being relocated to research and development.

The way Turkey has been handling the current long-range missile project has raised some questions over its seriousness in designing long-term defense strategies that are in line with the nationand#39s security interests.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman