US, NATO warn Turkey: Chinese-built air defense system not interoperable with NATO’s

Do you remember a post I did a month ago for CODA, on Turkey’s selection of a Chinese contender for the construction of the country’s first long-range air defense system? (See Turkey selects China to build “stand-alone” air defense system”.)

At the time, official and industry sources said Turkey, a NATO member, may end up with a “standalone” system with little or no integration with NATO assets like radars.

Now, this is confirmed.

The Chinese contender in the Turkish bid defeats a US partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, which was offering the Patriot air defense system.

Sevil Erkuş reports for Hürriyet Daily News, Nov. 4, 2013, that Turkey claims that the proposed system will be compatible with existing systems. Murad Bayar, head of Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Procurement, said full integration with NATO assets was an explicit condition in the contract for the planned air defense system, and that a Turkish defense company will produce an interface to integrate the Chinese anti-missile system into Turkey’s domestic air defense system, so that there would be no exchange of operational data with the Chinese company.

NATO and the U.S., however, clearly conveyed to Ankara that a Chinese CPMIEC missile defense system will not be integrated or interoperable with NATO systems.

A NATO diplomat said the Chinese system would degrade the effectiveness of Turkey’s expectations for its planned air defense capabilities if the system is not supported by NATO’s advanced radar facilities, such as the one deployed in Kürecik. The diplomat also stressed that one of the crucial components of such an air defense system is collecting data through radar technology in order to catch the threat, and speculated that Ankara could be insisting on the Chinese company given that it might be mulling the sale of defense systems to third party countries in the future.

Chinese CPMIEC has placed the lowest bid of $3.44 billion for the tender, offered transfer of design technology and joint production.

The U.S. is concerned with legal outcomes of Turkey’s deal with a sanctioned Chinese company. Those concerns were high on the agenda of U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Jim Miller’s talks with the Turkish ministries of defense, foreign affairs and the General Staff in Ankara last week.

In his meetings, Miller discussed possible problems that may rise to the surface if the Turkish government decides to enter into a contract with a US-sanctioned company, stressing that the Chinese system will not be interoperable with NATO systems or collective defense capabilities.

Miller also mentioned the possibility of a Turkish deal with a US-sanctioned company hampering ongoing and upcoming contracts involving the joint manufacture of U.S. military components in Turkey, due to legal restrictions. In early 2013, the U.S. announced sanctions on CPMIEC for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

The U.S. government has been examining what legal ramifications may arise from joint production with Turkish defense companies such as with Aselsen, Tai, should they decide to enter into joint production with a US-sanctioned Chinese company and occupy their facilities.

Turkey, one of nine countries that are part of a US-led consortium to build the F-35 fighter, is licensed to produce Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter components. Also, Turkey and US-based Sikorsky are planning to sign an agreement for the production of military helicopters.

The Italian-French consortium Eurosam, manufacturer of the SAMP/T Aster 30 is the second, and the U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot air defense system, is the third bidder in Turkey’s evaluation list, if the contract talks with the Chinese company fails.

Turkey has said it is likely to sign the deal with CPMIEC but that its decision is not yet final.

H/t CODA’s Sol Sanders

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