DUBAI : The head of the Turkish air force said on Saturday his country’s decision to buy a $3.4 billion missile defence system from a Chinese company was not final, and could still change.

General Akin Ozturk, commander of the Turkish Air Force, also said he did not see any linkage between Turkey’s interest in buying F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp and the missile defence procurement process. Asked at a global gathering of air chiefs about U.S. concerns that the Chinese system would not be interoperable with those of NATO members, Ozturk said, “This is not the last position of Turkey. It may change.” Ozturk told the Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference that he was not authorized to speak more broadly about Turkey’s announcement in September that it planned to buy a missile defence system from a Chinese firm facing under U.S. sanctions. Turkey announced in September it had chosen China’s FD-2000 long-range air and missile defence system against rival offers from Franco/Italian Eurosam SAMP/T and Raytheon.

It said China offered the most competitive terms and would allow co-production in Turkey, but the decision caused alarm in NATO countries worried about China’s growing clout. Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. government officials raised concerns after Ankara’s choice of the missile defence system built by China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp, a firm that is under U.S. sanctions for violating the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

Ozturk told Reuters after his speech at the conference that he did not see any link between a pending decision on Turkey’s participation in the F-35 fighter program, involving Lockheed Martin Corp, and the missile procurement. He said Turkey was poised to decided in December or January whether to proceed with an initial purchase of two F-35 fighter jets, but the exact date had not been set.