Turkey has requested the United States maintain an offer for a Patriot missile-defense system, suggesting Ankara has not made up its mind on purchasing a Chinese antimissile package that has come under criticism by NATO, Reuters reported on Monday, citing anonymous sources.
A U.S. Raytheon-Lockheed Martin team previously made an offer to sell Patriot antimissile technology to Turkey, however the companies' proposal was rejected last month in favor of a less-costly bid made by the state-owned China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp. for its FD-2000 antimissile system. U.S. and NATO officials publicly questioned the wisdom of choosing a Chinese system that may not be compatible with other NATO member states' missile-defense technology and also could pose a cyber-security risk. After those concerns were raised, Ankara said no final decision had been made on the contractor.
"It's clear that they are trying to hedge their bets," an informed insider told the news agency, which reported it was not clear as of press time what timeline Turkey was seeking on the price extension.
"As the final decision has not been taken, the other firms on the list always have the possibility to improve their bids," an unidentified high-ranking Turkish official said to Reuters.
Turkey has said that when making its final decision on a contractor, it will be looking for possibilities for co-production with Turkish defense firms.
"Rather than pricing, joint production in Turkey is more important," the source said.
Lockheed and Raytheon officials would not provide a comment on the matter. The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees large weapon-export deals, also did not return requests for comment.