ANKARA, April 30 (Reuters) - Turkey has extended the validity of bids in a multi-billion dollar missile defence system tender despite having provisionally awarded the deal to China, a senior Turkish defence official said on Wednesday.
Turkey’s NATO allies voiced concern when it said in September it had chosen China’s FD-2000 missile defence system over rival offers from Franco-Italian Eurosam and U.S.-listed Raytheon Co. It said China offered the most competitive terms and would allow co-production in Turkey.
The official said the bids from Eurosam and Raytheon, which had been due to expire on Wednesday, would be extended for a further two months.
“Their bids will be valid until June 30,” the official said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The deal would mark a breakthrough for China in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons. But Turkish officials have said for months that it was not a foregone conclusion that Ankara would end up signing the $3.4 billion deal with China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC).
U.S. and NATO officials are unhappy with Turkey’s choice of CPMIEC, which is under U.S. sanctions for selling items to Iran, Syria or North Korea that are banned under U.S. laws to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Turkey said in November it aimed to make a definitive decision on the air and missile defence system deal in around six months. (Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Nick Tattersall)