Ankara taps Pakistan’s China ties in search of war tech: report

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Turkey’s push to manufacture warplanes and missiles with Pakistan can be a hookup that could also give it access to war technology from China, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

According to the Bloomberg report citing anonymous sources from the Turkish and Pakistani governments, the countries have been engaging in talks — the last one was held in January — to develop and manufacture military hardware. Bloomberg’s sources didn’t say when they’ll meet again or how close they are to an agreement.

NATO-member Turkey would get closer to some of China’s military technology with a deal with Pakistan. The latter builds its JF17 fighter jets with China and its Shaheen ballistic missile is said to have been adapted from Chinese designs.

According to the report citing people familiar with the matter, Turkey sees nuclear power Pakistan as a potential partner in building its Siper long-range missile-defense project and TF-X fighter jet. Bloomberg’s sources didn’t say whether the talks have gotten to the point of seeking Beijing’s consent to share Chinese defense technology.

Pakistani Defense Secretary Mian Muhammad Hilal Hussain met with top Turkish officials, including Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, in December, and discussed defense industry cooperation, according to the report. Akar has also met with Pakistan’s defense minister, military chief and air force chief and accompanied President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on a visit to Pakistan in the past year.

Turkey’s outreach to Pakistan meshes with Ankara’s aspiration to become a power center in an increasingly multipolar world, Bloomberg cited a Turkish official who spoke on the contacts with Pakistan as saying.

Turkish adoption of Chinese military technology could move Ankara further away from the Western military alliance and exacerbate the already sour relations with the US.

Washington is already sanctioning Turkey for buying a missile-defense system from Russia.

Despite warnings from the United States and other NATO allies, President Erdoğan brokered a deal worth $2.5 billion with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the S-400 missile system in 2017.

Due to the acquisition of the Russian missile system, the US suspended Turkish companies from participating in the development of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F35 stealth fighter jet as Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to the aircraft and NATO’s broader defense systems. Turkey rejects this and says the S-400s will not be integrated into NATO.

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