Monday, November 18, 2013

Some questions emerge about Turkey, the F-35, Chinese missiles and NATO

Interesting article from a Turkish news site:
The head of the Turkish air force said on Nov. 16 that he did not see any linkage between Turkey’s interest in buying F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and the missile defense procurement process.

General Akın Öztürk told Reuters that Turkey was poised to decide in December or January whether to proceed with an initial purchase of two F-35 fighter jets, but the exact date had yet to be set.

“I am very interested in the F-35,” Öztürk said after his speech at the Dubai International Air Chiefs. “We have enough money.”
The Turkish/NATO alliance has always been one that seemed a little odd to many.  When Turkey entered NATO, it was a different country than it is now.  More aligned with the West, it seemed to be a good fit, but since then, Turkey has shown great interest in becoming a regional power within the Middle East.

It has also attempted, because of that, to show some independence. And then there are the economic times to consider. Thus the Chinese missile buy.  However, it is troubling as well. And, it points to some possible serious degredation of the capability of interoperability among the allies:
Asked at a global gathering of air chiefs about U.S. concerns that the Chinese system would not be interoperable with those of NATO members, he said, “This is not the last position of Turkey. It may change.”
Turkey, as one might imagine, is under pressure from NATO and the West to not buy the system.
Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. government officials raised concerns after Ankara’s choice of the missile defense system built by China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp, a firm that is under U.S. sanctions for violating the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
The competitive US system, of course, is the Patriot Missile system:
U.S. arms makers Raytheon Co (RTN.N) and Lockheed are considering ways to sweeten their offer to build a Patriot missile defense system for Turkey, two sources familiar with the issue told Reuters earlier this week.

Both sources said no decisions had been made and it was important to allow Turkey - a member of NATO - time to make up its mind. The companies are also reviewing the offset agreements and co-production deals involved in the U.S. bid, the sources said.
Given that the F-35 will be a part of their Air Force and we know the Chinese interests in the aircraft and the technology it will bring to Turkey, it is also worrying that China would have a presence, through their missile system, in a NATO country.

If I had to guess, and this is purely speculation on my part, Turkey will eventually choose the Patriot missile system.  Like South Korea, this may be a negotiating tactic to get a better deal. 



  1. I've brought up Turkey before as a country the US should not be selling the F-35 too. The US under Obama have downgraded US security interests in the Middle East, so much so that allies for the last 50 years are questioning their reliance on US security guarantees. Turkey's value to the US in such a world is diminished as well. Evidently Pres Obama doesn't see a US role is safeguarding free, unfettered supply of oil out of the ME either. Enter the Chinese who already are the largest importer of ME oil and the Saudi's biggest customer. Its inevitable that China will fill the vacuum Obama is creating in the ME and the Turkish decision is likely to not be reversed. Plus China has excellent relations with Tehran and this Chinese deal could offer Turkey a counter weight to Iranian expansionism, currently looking very successful.
    Turkey's turn towards China is the first crack in the all American armor, but there will be a great many more cracks before it's a Middle East armed and protected by China. Unless the US gets new policies in the region.

  2. China already stole all the information it needs on the F-35, so that's not a factor.

    My guess is that Turkey is waiting for mid-January to see the next annual F-36 test report before they make any decision. There's nothing to indicate that the next report would be any less negative than last year's.

  3. I read that of the three bids, Turkey evaluated the US patriot deal as the least competitive. While its likely that Turkey is using the Chinese firm for a better Euro or US deal, it is not entirely out of the question. PM Erdogan seems to want to distance himself from the US and Europe. Should Turkey purchase the HQ-9, it would be prudent to put F-35 sales to Turkey on ice.

  4. Obama promised "transformation" and the world is getting it. Just today the Foreign Minister of Israel said his policy is to reduce Israeli dependence upon the USA and establish new strategic partners. They are about to be enriched with large oil and gas revenues so there is method to his words. As Obama's transformation accelerates in the ME, other countries will get the Israeli fever as China, Russia, India, Israel, Germany, France moves in to replace American security guarantees and safeguard their energy supplies. So how safe will advanced American hi-tech, like the F-35, be in the hands of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar? When they are wheeling and dealing for regime survival how determined will they be to protect some of the best equipment we have sold them? Outside of Australia, Japan and existing European buyers, I see major risks to our technology by selling into the Middle East.