Turkey has selected a Chinese company under US sanctions as a supplier of a $4bn long-range air and missile defence system rejecting Russian, American and European bidders.
The Turkish defence minister announced the decision to award the contract to China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC) in a statement on Thursday.
CPMIEC will work with China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) to deliver the system. While CASC specialises in intercontinental ballistic missiles, CASC has experience with short and intermediate range rockets.
Turkish analysts said they believed Ankara had chosen the Chinese bidder for technological reasons as well as a lower price.
In the past years, China has been investing heavily into its defence industry, supporting local manufacturers, which is believed to have helped the country to achieve comparable standards to Russia, Europe and the USA.
Last year, China became the world's fifth-biggest arms supplier achieving a 5 per cent market share.
However, CPMIEC , the company concerned, has been put under sanctions by the USA in February this year for supposedly violating the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
As Turkey is a member of NATO, this issue might be of concerned to the international community.
"Turkey's NATO allies are distanced to the idea of co-production and technological transfer," Atilla Sandikli, the chairman of think-tank Bilgesam and former high-level officer in the Turkish army, said.
"But the Chinese firm states the opposite. I think Turkey's choice is a message to its NATO allies in this sense."
NATO has generally been averse to buying weapons systems from outside the Western world, pursuing a policy of standardisation that allows member armies to work more smoothly together.
Nick de Larrinaga, Europe Editor of IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, said the Chinese bid was long understood to have 'massively undercut other bidders'. He said Western competitors were also offering wide involvement for Turkish industry.
"The decision...is undoubtedly a surprise," he said.
Turkey, which has the second-largest deployable military force in the NATO alliance, has no long-range missile defence system of its own, but NATO has deployed the U.S.-built Patriot air and missile defence system there since 2012.
The winning Chinese FD-2000 system beat the Patriot, the Russian S-400 and the French-Italian Eurosam Samp-T.