In an interview with the Hurriyet newspaper on 02 December 2019, Dr. İsmail Demir, the head of Turkey’s Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), stated that the sale of 30 Turkish Aerospace T129 attack helicopters to Pakistan is still proceeding, despite the apparent uncertainty of securing its engines from the US.
Responding to a question, Demir stated the standard processes for securing re-export licenses for the CTS-800 turboshaft engine are continuing as expected. He added, “we cannot say there’s a deliberate delay (on the part of the US) right now…we will wait and see the result.”
However, Demir cautioned that should the US actively block the sale of the CTS800, Turkey is on-track to developing and integrating its own turboshaft engine, the TS1400, to the ATAK. TUSAŞ Engine Industries (TEI) had begun developing the TS1400 in February 2017, and is working to conclude the project by 2025.
Moreover, Turkey was also reportedly speaking to France’s Safran Group on a contingency option (in case the CTS-800 falls through) for an ITAR-free engine, such as the Arrano 1A, for use on the T129.
Currently, the first deliveries of the ATAK to Pakistan are scheduled for late 2020.
With Pakistan being the launch customer for the T129, the SSB appears intent on completing the delivery of the ATAK. However, there could be a risk of delay if the US blocks the CTS800, which may push initial deliveries of the ATAK to Pakistan well into the 2020s.
The Pakistan Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) signed a contract with the SSB for 30 T129 ATAKs in July 2018. The price of the contract was $1.5 billion US and includes the helicopters as well as its logistics, training support, munitions and spare parts. The program was scheduled for completion within five years, with the first batch of ATAKs due in late 2020.
Demir also added that talks are underway to sell Roketsan L-UMTAS, UMTAS and OMTAS anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) to the Pakistan Army for use from other platforms.
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