Executive Committee would discuss the long-range missile deal during their meeting in the first week of January 2015. The much-awaited procurement decision bears huge strategic and geopolitical impacts. With ups and downs in the competition between 2013 and 2014, Turkey has found itself in a tense political situation with NATO and China. It is clear that Ankara is willing to take a careful approach in 2015 to change this.
The long-range missile defence programme, known as T-LORAMIDS, has been one of the most-watched procurements in Turkey. It has also been severely delayed with no decision over competitors pursuing this opportunity since 2013.
Interestingly, it is has been identified as the highlight of the Defense
Industry Executive Committee’s very first meeting in 2015. It is expected that the Committee would announce a roadmap to for this project to ensure that it moves forward. According to the news report, “The Undersecretary of Defense Industry (SSM) said negotiations with China through CPMIEC, which won a tentative deal for the project in September 2013, were still continuing, but asked for improved offers from French-Italian Eurosam and
American Raytheon and Lockheed Martin by December 31, 2014.”
Following the Turkey’s selection of the Chinese bid, several questions were raised about the selection criteria. In December 2014, Turkish
Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz told the media that Turkey’s priorities in the air defence programme were as follows (ranking):
- Technology transfer
- Co-production that ensures technology
- Quickest delivery
- “Reasonable” pricing.
Increasing interest in the Eurosam Bid
The Italian-French consortium Eurosam – jointly owned by MBDA and Thales – offered the SAMP/T Aster 30 system, which was the runner-up in the previous competition in 2013. During the IDEF exhibition held in
Istanbul in March 2013, Eurosam had displayed a Launch Module and an Engagement Module from the Italian 4th Air Defence Regiment. During the show, Eurosam has completed discussion with Turkey over industrial co-operation for a range of systems. A typical SAMP/T battery includes a command and control vehicle, Arabel radar and up to six transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicles, each with eight missiles and a store of reload missiles. In addition, the system uses modular architecture for real-time applications and image console systems. According to Asian Defence, Turkey agreed to allow Eurosam to bid on the project after France’s intense lobbying activities convinced Ankara to soften its restrictions on French defence firms over Paris’ recognition of events that took place in 1915 under the Ottoman Empire as genocide of Armenians, a claim that Turkey denies.
Option 2: US Patriot system
The US is offering PAC-3 and PAC-2 SAMs through a joint offer by
Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. These systems themselves do not need much of an introduction. The US offer has focused on the question of interoperability and NATO-integration as the major selling point of the Patriot systems. Turkey is in a precarious position where it risks losing radar capabilities if it chooses for example the Chinese SAM. The argument here is that about half of Turkey’s network-based air defence radars are those funded by the NATO Air Defence Ground Environment and overall data fusion is important for Turkey. Primary interface data and the data related to the identify Friend or Foe (IFF) system will not be installed into any Chinese System.
It is not clear whether Turkey intends to make the system interoperable with the NATO assets. Turkey will no doubt need to build stand-alone systems to support its air defence missile in order to complete the full missile defence picture.
China – Turkey relations in question?
Ankara has begun to realize that it should find a way to stop the talks with China for the T-Loramids project. But while doing so, Ankara also knows that it should not upset Beijing. The HQ-9 (export designation
FD-2000) was announced to be the winning competitor in 2013, however it was reported by Reuters that the Chinese firm could not fulfil the conditions properly in the tender documents. In addition, there was pressure from the other competitors to re-open the bidding process.
One of the main success factors for China in 2013 is possibly the pricing of their system, although Ankara maintains that the decision was purely based on technical aspects. In order to make the deal more attractive to Turkey, the Chinese hauled the price of the system down to nearly half of the original. In addition, it has proposed cheaper technology transfer options. Based on news reports from 2014, the estimated cost of the Chinese offer was about USD3.44 billion. According to Chinese defence analysts, the HQ-9 version offered to Istanbul is likely to be the HQ-9B which is an improved version with dual-mode semi-active radar seeker in addition to IR imaging. HQ-9 in itself is an improved Russian S-300 SAM system with radar guidance similar to US based technologies like the SJ-231 and the Patriot’s Track-via-Missile (TvM). The HQ-9 has a naval version (HQ-9A) that is currently being fielded by the Chinese Navy on its Type 052C destroyer. The HQ-9 system is a replacement of the older HQ-2 systems that were used by China.
(Source: MPI – Hawk Information)