Turkish authorities are likely to announce their choice for a critical weapons system worth over $4 billion in early July, a senior procurement official said June 8.
The decision is in regards to the Long-Range Air and Missile Defense Systems, or T-Loramids, which American, European, Russian and Chinese companies are vying for.
The committee behind the decision is comprised of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Chief of the Turkish General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, and Murad Bayar, head of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries.
Competitors include U.S. partners Raytheon and Lockheed Martin with their Patriot-based system, Eurosam with its SAMP/T Aster 30, Russia’s Rosoboronexport, which markets the country’s S-300 and S-400 systems, and China’s CPMIEC (China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation), offering its HQ-9.
“We definitely expect a decision this time. The program was delayed since 2009,” said a business official. “We should see at least a shortlist of some of the companies.”
Russian and Chinese systems
Many Western officials and experts say the Russian and the Chinese systems are not compatible with NATO systems. Their potential eventual victory might inadvertently provide them with access to classified NATO information, and as a result may compromise NATO’s procedures.
But despite the criticism, Turkey has ruled against expelling the Chinese and Russian options, saying there is no need to exclude them from the Turkish competition.
After selecting a company the committee would then select a national commercial shipyard to manufacture three to eight of the Milgem national corvettes in the $1.5 billion program.
Candidates for the shipyard are RMK Marine, owned by the Koç conglomerate, and Dearsan A.Ş. The first two corvettes were built at a military shipyard. The first corvette, the TCG Heybeliada, has already entered service in the Navy, and the second, the TCG Büyükada, has been sent out to sea for tests.
The Milgem program is Turkey’s first national project for the construction of warships. Corvettes are the smallest warships. The largest warship in the inventory of the Turkish Navy is frigates. After the Milgem project is finished, Turkey is due to design, develop and construct its first national frigate, the TF2000, sometime in the 2020s.
“The Milgem has been very useful from the point of design, development and construction of a national ship, and we are going to build on this experience to obtain the capability of building bigger warships,” the procurement official said.