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Pakistan Army chief in Turkey, visits defence ministry and TAI
September 20, 2017
General Qamar Javed Bajwa visiting Turkish Aerospace Industries' (TAI) T129 production plant. Photo credit: Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR)

Pakistan Army chief in Turkey, visits defence ministry and TAI

The Pakistan Army’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa is on an official visit to Turkey. According to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), Gen. Bajwa met with Turkey’s Minister of Defence Fikri Işık to discuss areas of mutual interest, particularly “security policies, defence production and … training.”

The COAS also visited Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), where “he was briefed about the projects being undertaken by TAI in both military and civil aviation industry.” Gen. Bajwa had also inspected – and flew in – the TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter, which TAI is marketing to the Pakistan Army.

Notes & Comments:

Alongside China, Turkey is among Pakistan’s leading defence partners. Over the past decade, Ankara and Islamabad have developed programs to facilitate defence-related training, exchanges and trade.

Pakistan also sees Turkey as its surrogate source for American and European technology, which Turkey produces under license or benefits from to varying degrees for its own programs. Turkey has been able to leverage its acquisition programs and scale to acquire technology transfers and export licenses. In turn, it markets the hardware to countries such as Pakistan. Sales generate additional scale, which distribute the development overhead across a higher number of units (i.e. increasing affordability of subsequent units).

For example, the T129 ATAK is an upgraded variant of the Leonardo (formerly AgustaWestland) AW129 Mangusta, which Turkey selected as part of its next-generation attack helicopter program in the 2000s. Turkey acquired the Mangusta with the technology to manufacture the airframe domestically as well as to market the platform for export to third-party users.

In 2016, Pakistan had evaluated the T129 as part of an apparent ‘plus one’ attack helicopter requirement to complement the heavier Bell Helicopter AH-1Z Viper, three of which are due for delivery by the end of this year. With the Chinese Z-10 as the sole active competitor, it is not clear which platform the Pakistan Army will ultimately select (assuming the program will be pursued).

However, at IDEF 2017 in May, TAI signed a memorandum-of-understanding with Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), which may enable PAC to manufacture and supply T129 parts as well as assemble the helicopter should the Pakistan Army select the T129 (Aviation Week).

It is likely that the offset package is being pitched to reduce the T129’s costs for Pakistan, albeit over the long-term through stimuli (via Pakistan contracting PAC for some T129 work) and exports to Turkey (for T129 parts). In a sense, the T129 could have broader implications than simply providing attack helicopters to the Army, it is also Turkey’s offer to support the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) Kamra Aviation City initiative by packaging a helicopter industry work with the T129 acquisition.

TAI’s supporting T129 contractors Aselsan and Roketsan are also eager to engage with the Pakistan Army in the areas of electronics and munitions, respectively. In recent years, Aselsan has been supplying software defined radios to the Pakistan Army, but it is hoping to expand its activities to include electro-optical and other electronics equipment for the al-Khalid 2 tank program. Roketsan is marketing its Mizrak/UMTAS series of anti-tank guided missiles and expertise in artillery rockets and ballistic armour.

 

  • Steve

    Excellent news. The game is afoot! Bajwa is highly professional so we trust him to do a good job. The benefits of getting Turkey to invest in Aviation City mostly with technology and knowledge, are varied and many, and go well beyond the marginal technical differences in helicopter performance. We also need to look at the bigger picture. We can have huge benefits from getting into a firm alliance with the Turks, without advertising it of course, as our enemies are many, and try to steer the direction of this ‘Muslim NATO’ to our and other countries’ mutual benefit. There will be disappointments as a lot of countries are ruled by autocrats and there is no democracy so the will of the people is suppressed, but we need to be steadfast. We Muslims eventually need to own and sort out our problems, and remove foreign influence from our lands. We have the largest population of the Middle Eastern countries, and are not an insignificant power.

  • Shafiq Ahmed

    I hope PAF chief will also visit TAI soon and Pakistan will join TFX program to counter IAF growing superiority which is inducting 200 more 4.5 generation Fighter Jets.Turkey is our brotherly Muslim Country and most trustworthy ally and it is rare oppertunity for Pakistan to field an indigenous next gen Fighter

  • Faisal Ur Rahman

    We need Pak-Turk collaboration in SAM area (short, medium and long ranges). Hisar program of turkey and Nescom’s missile capability can be a useful combination.

    • Irfan Ullah

      Great suggestion i think this is the area pakistan should focus

  • jamshed_kharian_pak

    Republic Of Turkey’s Armed Forces Collaboration a Plus for Armed Forces Of Islamic Republic Of Pakistan we vote

  • MisterSamsung Galaxy

    sorry a question irrelevant with the article. I read that a Pakistani fighter shot down an Iranian UAV about 49km in Pak airspace. Can anyone validate that from Pakistani press source ?

    • Steve

      That seems to be the case. There is no info apart from what is available in the press. We should aim to keep Iran neutral as they can cause a lot of mischief for us in collaboration with our enemies. We should return the drone (after studying it) and warn them not to do it again. The pic on Jang appears to show an intact drone. Don’t know how it was ‘shot down’ by the Air Force. Saudi and Iran are getting into confrontation and unfortunately we may have to choose sides soon. We share a long border with Iran and have many common interests. Our dependence on Saudi money really sucks! Being poor because of economic mismanagement and corruption really hurts us deeply as we cannot conduct an independent foreign policy. Mr Panama NS needs to understand this, but unfortunately I don’t think they care much for the country.

  • Ali Afzal

    Chinese WZ-10 is a competitor of AH-1z viper while T-129 is a competitor of AH-1 Super cobra. Anyway, Pakistan Army Aviation found T-129 much better in performance than WZ-10.

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