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Turkey to buy foreign air-defense systems worth $800 million

ANKARA, February 21 (RIA Novosti) - Turkey's government has decided to allocate some $800 million on creating national air defenses and plans to buy four air defense systems as a first phase of the effort, a local newspaper wrote Tuesday.

According to New Anatolian, Turkey's independent English-language daily, Tayyip Erdogan's government is expected to announce a tender.

The government, which is said to have made the funding decision late last week, tasked the military industry department with preparing a feasibility study and proposing tender terms.

The Turkish media wrote that Ankara was to choose among U.S.-made Patriot systems, Russia's S-300 (Favorit) complexes, and American-Israeli Arrow-2 systems.

Russia's state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, which earlier announced plans to take part in the tender, is preparing bids at the moment.

According to the paper, Turkey has stepped up efforts to create national air defenses, fearing that the current standoff between the United States, Israel, some European countries and Iran over the latter's nuclear programs, could evolve into a military conflict. Neighboring Iran's Sahap-3 medium-range missiles also prompted Turkey to speed up efforts in the sphere.

Turkey received two Patriot air defense systems from the U.S. to protect its airspace from possible air strikes from Iraq during the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991, when an American-led coalition responded to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, and during the antiterrorist campaign launched by an international coalition in Iraq in 2003. The systems were dismantled afterward.

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