Though China has been the front runner, Turkey has now turned toward France regarding the tender for a multi-billion dollar air defense system, according to unnamed sources close to the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) who spoke to Today's Zaman on Monday.
The sources said that SSM Undersecretary İsmail Demir held a secret meeting in France with the firm Eurosam regarding interest in the tender, which is expected to be one of the largest military projects in the history of the Turkish Republic.
Last year, Turkey chose a Chinese company for the tender, however the deadline for the tender has since been extended several times, allowing Turkey to pursue offers from other bidders.
If negotiations with the Chinese do not continue, Eurosam is second in line, while an American company has third priority, according to sources.
Ankara said last year that the $3.4 billion high technology offer from China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC) would enable Turkey to co-produce the missiles and thus build a strong national defense industry, a factor that played a critical role in the initial selection of the Chinese firm.
CPMIEC is under US sanctions for selling items to Iran, Syria and North Korea that are banned under US law to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.