Pakistan Again Extends T129 ATAK Helicopters Deal With Turkey

A Turkish TAI/AgustaWestland T129 ATAK helicopter. Pakistan purchased 30 of these in 2018.

Pakistan has given another deadline to a helicopter deal with Turkey. Now, Ankara six more months to deliver the aircraft.

In July 2018, Pakistan inked a $1.5 billion deal with Turkey for purchasing 30 Turkish-made T129 Atak helicopters.

A Turkish T129 helicopter is on an exhibit during the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK. (Airman Micaiah Anthony/U.S. Air Force)

However, the delivery date has been pushed back due to the Pentagon’s denial to issue export licenses for engines and other parts made in the US.

“We’ve obtained a six-month extension from Pakistan,” Tur­key’s top procurement official, İsmail Demir, told a US defense publication, Defense News.

In January 2020, Pakistan gave the first one-year extension to the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for delivering the helicopters.

However, with the sale in jeopardy, the Turkish government tasked Tusaş Engine Industries with developing an indigenous engine for the T129.

A Turkish TAI/AgustaWestland T129 ATAK helicopter.

The Defense News publication reported that the US objection was rooted in Washington’s opposition to Ankara purchasing the Russian-made S-400 Triumf air defense system.

A senior official in Turkey told Defense News that the extension did not imply the deal would work out.

“This is not a commercial or a technological issue,” he said.

“It’s purely political, and as long as the reasons for the US blockade remain in effect, the Turkish-Pakistani deal will remain a victim of the Turkish-US dispute.”

The Turkish HÜRJET Aircraft. Pakistan has been unable to buy these due to US sanctions on Turkey. (Turkish Aerospace)

Pakistan chose Turkey’s T192 attack helicopters to replace its fleet of AH-1F Cobra gunships.

Nevertheless, the Turkish Aerospace Industries, which makes the helicopters, must first secure US export licenses before delivery.

The 5-ton T129 is a twin-engine multirole attack helicopter produced under license from Agusta Westland and based on the A129 Mangusta.

It is powered by two LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engines.

LHTEC, the engine maker, is a joint venture between the American firm Honeywell and the British company Rolls-Royce.

A Turkish aerospace official informed Defense News that this was not the only hiccup.

“There are other components the Americans can decline to issue export licenses for,” he said.

“We have the feeling that the T129 deal would not go through without a political go-ahead from Washington.”

US lawmakers have frozen all major US arms sales to the Nato ally to pressure Ankara to abandon its Russian-built S-400.

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