US blocks sale of 30 ATAK T-129 helicopters to Pakistan

US blocks sale of 30 ATAK T-129 helicopters to Pakistan

The deal worth $1.5 billion is the biggest defense deal between Pakistan and Turkey that was signed in July, 2018 but is yet to be materialized

The United States has prohibited Turkey from supplying 30 locally-made attack helicopters to Pakistan which use engines manufactured in the U.S., as per media reports citing diplomatic sources in Washington. As per reports, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that “the US has blocked Turkey’s helicopter sale to Pakistan, which will likely lead to Islamabad buying it from China.”

The ATAK T-129 is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta platform and is equipped with American engines. The helicopter can carry out advanced attack and reconnaissance missions in hot and high environments in both day and night conditions. The US is holding up export clearance for the LHTEC engine. The spokesperson said that the action will cause more harm to the U.S.

Delays caused by Pentagon

In July, 2018, Turkey and Pakistan inked a $1.5 billion deal for the Turkish-made helicopter gunships. The delivery date was, however, pushed back after Pentagon’s refusal to issue the Turkish company an export license for the engines.

Ankara and Islamabad extended the delivery deal by another year to ensure a smooth delivery In January 2020, the head of Turkey’s Defense Industries (SSB) said. The agreement has provisions allowing Pakistan the option to buy the Chinese Z-10 helicopters should the Turkish deal not materialize. Turkey has retained a Washington law firm to lobby with the US administration and Congress for securing an export license.

The action comes after U.S. placed certain sanctions on Turkey after they purchased S-400 missiles from Russia. While Turkey wanted to acquire the Patriot Defense system from Washington, they did not offer favorable terms.

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