For China, Turkey missile deal a victory even if it doesn’t happen | Reuters

Turkey‘s $4 billion order for a Chinese missile defense system is a breakthrough for China in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons, even though opposition from Washington and NATO threatens to derail the deal.

The logo of China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) is seen at its headquarters in Beijing in this September 27, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Files

The winning bid from the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) to deliver its FD-2000 air defense missile system in a joint production agreement with Turkey is the first time a Chinese supplier has won a major order for state-of-the-art equipment from a NATO member. U.S., Russian and Western European manufacturers were also in the fray.

The decision last week to award the contract to CPMIEC, a company that is under U.S. sanctions for dealings with Iran, North Korea and Syria, surprised global arms trade experts and senior NATO officials.

“It is quite significant I would say, if it materializes,” said Oliver Brauner, a researcher on China’s arms exports at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).”It would certainly be a landmark deal.”

Turkey signaled on Monday that it could back away from its decision after Washington said it had “serious concerns” about the deal with a sanctioned company for a system that would not be compatible with NATO’s other weapons and networks.

And, in a reminder that Ankara faces stiff opposition from its alliance partners in Europe, a NATO official in Brussels said it was important that equipment ordered by member countries is compatible.

“It is premature at this stage to say whether Turkey’s acquisition will be able to operate with the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System,” the official said.

NATO’s disappointment with Turkey is heightened by the fact that the United States, Germany and the Netherlands each sent two Patriot batteries earlier this year after Ankara asked for help in beefing up its air defenses against the threat of missiles from Syria.

Ankara could call off the air defense deal under pressure, but some Chinese and foreign commentators suggested it would still be a symbolic victory for Beijing.

They say Turkey’s willingness to choose the FD-2000 over established rivals confirms the rapid technical improvement and competitiveness of China’s missile and aerospace sector.

Chinese military experts say the system performed well in live tests for the Turkish Defence Ministry.

It also signals that China’s sprawling defense industry is poised to become a low cost supplier of high technology weaponry alongside its rapidly expanding sales of basic military equipment including small arms, artillery, armored vehicles, general purpose vehicles and older generation missiles.

via For China, Turkey missile deal a victory even if it doesn’t happen | Reuters.

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