Pakistan, Turkey once again extend T129 ATAK helicopter contract

Pakistan, Turkey once again extend T129 ATAK helicopter contract

The deal is held up by the U.S. refusal to allow export of the helicopters, as they use U.S. engines, in the aftermath of a tiff with Turkey

Pakistan and Turkey agreed to once again extend their deal for T129 Atak helicopters, which has been delayed on more than one occasion. The helicopter deal has been held up due to the refusal by the U.S. to allow Turkey to export the helicopters that contain engines made in the U.S. The rift began when Turkey acquired the Russian S-400 air defense system owing to unfavorable terms offered by the U.S. for its patriot air defense system.

Turkey’s top procurement official, Ismail Demir disclosed that an extension is in place. However, he expressed concern that until the U.S.-Turkey matter is not resolved, the deal for the T129 Atak helicopters is unlikely to materialize.

“We have obtained a six-month extension from Pakistan,” Demir said. “This is not a technological or commercial issue, it is purely political, and as long as the reasons for the U.S. blockade remain in effect … what looks like a Turkish-Pakistani deal will be a victim of a Turkish-U.S. dispute.”

The deal is getting derailed due to the U.S. hesitancy to issue export licenses for the engine, but a Turkish aerospace official explained that isn’t the only issue. “There are other components the Americans can refuse to issue export licenses for,” he said. “We have the impression that the T129 deal would not go through without a political go-ahead from Washington.”

Pakistan has thus far looked to wait for Turkey to get the necessary permissions and export the helicopters to Pakistan. The written agreement between the two countries allows Pakistan to acquire Chinese helicopters in case the deal does not materialize.

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