Turkey has again extended by two months the deadline for bids for a multi-billion dollar anti-missile defense system tender, despite having provisionally awarded the deal to China, a Turkish official has told the Hurriyet Daily News.
The new deadline for rival bidding companies to submit their proposals is Aug. 30, allowing U.S. company Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp and Italian-French team Eurosam SAMP/T to revise their offers and try to head off the Chinese company, with which Turkey is still in talks.
This is the third time Ankara has extended the deadline for revised offers.
The new head of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), İsmail Demir, recently held talks in China about the Chinese bid, according to sources.
Turkey's NATO allies have repeatedly voiced concerns over Ankara's choice on the Chinese FD-2000 missile defense system, a rival offer from Franco-Italian Eurosam and U.S.-listed Raytheon Co.
In particular, the U.S. has been putting pressure on Turkey's defense industry giants to dissuade Ankara from choosing a Chinese firm, over concerns about interoperability with NATO systems.
Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Eurosam are in talks with Turkish defense companies - such as military electronics specialist Aselsan, defense software specialist Havelsan, missile manufacturer Roketsan and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) - and warning that their partnerships in certain fields would not be able to continue if Turkey buys missiles from China.
Turkey said China had offered the most competitive terms and would allow co-production in Turkey.
Rival companies said they would give consent to co-production, which has been one of Turkey's top priorities, but this would increase the price to a great extent.
Chinese manufacturer China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) has been on the U.S. State Department's sanctions list since February 2013 due to non-proliferation concerns. The National Defense Authorization Act that the U.S. Congress also passed a decision, with a clause barring the use of "2014 funds to integrate the missile defense systems of the People's Republic of China into U.S. missile defense systems.