Turkey is likely to sign a deal to co-produce a missile defence system with a U.S. sanctioned Chinese firm after it placed the lowest bid of $3.44 billion in a tender.
Murad Bayar, Undersecretary of Defence Industries at the Defence Ministry, was quoted as saying by Reuters in Ankara that Turkey could finalise the deal with China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) within six months.
Bayar added CPMIEC's bid came in significantly lower than rival systems from Russian, U.S. and European firms. He said the Franco/Italian Eurosam SAMP/T system was second and Raytheon Co, a U.S. company that builds the Patriot missile, was third. A Russian bid had been eliminated, the report said.
The U.S expressed its dismay with Turkey's decision to pick a firm, it has placed under sanctions for delivering arms to Iran and Syria, to build the air defence and anti-missile system.
Turkey is not going sharing to any information on NATO defence systems with China and that, if the deal went ahead, almost all production would take place in Turkey.
NATO has also expressed the concern saying Turkish collaboration with China on the system could raise questions of compatibility of weaponry and of security.
If the deal is finalized, China would be a breakthrough in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons.