Global Affairs

NATO Defense Official: Turkey Plan to Purchase Chinese Weapons System Would Implant “Virus” Into NATO Command and Control System

The government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan recently doubled down on its intention to go through with a deal that would see Ankara complete a $3.4 billion missile deal with China, despite very explicit expressions of disappointment from NATO and U.S. officials all the way up to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The deal would see Turkey purchase missile defense assets from the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC), a company that among other things is currently under U.S. sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act. The systems would require integration with Turkey’s existing NATO assets, which would among other things require the Chinese systems to communicate with – and draw information from – NATO assets. Per an article published this morning by Turkey’s Hurriyet daily, Western defense officials are beside themselves with disbelief:

“NATO’s own command and control system that ‘mashes’ input from allied networks is far more important than a Chinese air defense system in Turkey,” said one defense attaché from a leading NATO member state. “There is no place for China within this critical system. We would not wish to see a virus in a complex system.”

A NATO ambassador in Ankara said Turkey was disillusioned with the idea of making the Chinese-built air defense architecture NATO-operable. “I have no idea why the Turks do not see the simple fact that the alliance’s security threat perception in the next 20 years is based on China. Air and missile defense will be the top defense issue in the foreseeable future, with China being under the magnifier.”… “Turkey has its own efforts to build the transponder part of the entire IFF system, but a fully functioning system would require the interrogator part too. To make the Chinese system NATO-operable, the Turks would require Mode 5 codes and I see no reason why the [U.S.] National Security Agency should give a nod to this crazy idea,” said one U.S. defense official.

Turkish opposition figures have publicly worried that the Erdogan government’s moves would bring Turkey-EU relations “to the brink of rupture.”

Asked about the concerns over integration, Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said he saw “no problem with this.” had already said last week that he had expected Turkey to choose a missile defense system compatible with those of other members of the body.

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