Turkey still to decide on best missile defense choice

imgThe U.S. government is continuing to advocate for the Patriot missile defense system offered by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin in a Turkish tender after Turkey cited disagreements with the Chinese firm that initially won the bid, a senior U.S. official has said.

“We’re in regular contact with the Turks about the U.S. offer in this particular competition,” Gregory Kausner, deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security and security assistance, told the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit on Sept. 10.

U.S. and NATO officials had warned Turkey that its collaboration with China on the system could raise questions about the compatibility of weaponry and of security.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan this week said Turkey was in talks with France after disagreements with China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC), which was originally awarded the tender last September.

Franco-Italian Eurosam, which is owned by Franco-Italian missile maker MBDA and France’s Thales, came second in the tender, while the Raytheon bid came in third.

The choice of CPMIEC for the project irked Western allies as the company is under U.S. sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Non-proliferation Act.

Kausner welcomed Turkey’s decision to turn away from the Chinese bid, and said Washington was convinced that Raytheon and Lockheed had offered a “unique and qualified solution.”

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