Turkey will move forward with a deal to purchase a US$3.4 billion air defense system from China despite its incompatibility with NATO equipments.
Turkish defense minister Ismet Yilmaz told Global Times that the system will be integrated with Turkey's national defense system but not with NATO's systems.
The decision may not be final, negotiations with all bidders for the contract were still underway, a spokesperson for Turkey's undersecretariat for defense industries was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Turkey would build Long Range Air and Missile Defense System, jointly by China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC) and Turkish defense companies, based on China's HQ-9 long-range ground-to-air missile.
The bid for the system was first announced in 2009. CPMIEC's HQ-9 won the bid over manufacturers from Russia, the US and Europe. However, NATO's concerns about the HQ-9 and issues with integration forced had Turkey to cancel the bid.
In the second round of bidding, CPMIEC won over bids from the French/Italian Eurosam consortium and Raytheon's Patriot missile system.
Turkey plans to buy at least 12 Chinese HQ-9 missile batteries. The Chinese system is cheaper than rival systems, the Russian news website Lenta.ru reported.
Konstantin Sivkov the president of Russia's International Academy of Geopolitical Problems said, if Turkey is working with China on the system, it means that it will also be working with Russia since China's air defense system is based on Russian technology, said Sivkov.
Russia will not be providing China with its latest technology so Turkey will benefit more from working with Russia, Sivkov added.