United States blocks deliveries of Turkish-made combat helicopters to Pakistan

US blocks deliveries Turkey Pakistan helicopter
T-129 ATAK combat helicopter.

Turkey's presidential spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, told reporters Monday that the United States has blocked the sale of 30 T-129 ATAK helicopters to Pakistan, according to Dawn.

The ATAK T-129 is a combat helicopter based on the A129 Mangusta platform developed by the Italian company AgustaWestland for the Italian Army and equipped with American engines. The Turkish defense firm TAI has signed an agreement with Italy to produce the type for domestic and international users.

The United States is delaying approval to Turkey for the export of the Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC), produced by the partnership between Honeywell International Inc. and Rolls-Royce.

According to Kalin, this delay is also damaging the United States as the engine is manufactured by American companies.

Turkey and Pakistan signed a $ 1.5 billion deal for Turkish-made helicopters in July 2018. The delivery date was postponed after the Pentagon refused to issue the Turkish company the engine export license.

The Turkish official told reporters that this action is part of the sanctions implemented by the United States following Ankara's decision to purchase S-400 missiles from Russia.

He said Turkey was forced to buy Russian missiles because Washington refused to supply Patriot air defense missile systems to them on favorable commercial terms. US sanctions aim to prevent any country from signing military agreements with Russia.

The US announced its first export blockade in July 2019, just days before a meeting between former US President Donald Trump and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington.

In January 2020, the head of the Turkish defense industries (SSB) said they had agreed with Islamabad to delay deliveries by one year in order to obtain all regular licenses. The deal offers Pakistan the option to purchase Chinese Z-10 helicopters if the Turkish deal fails.

In August 2020, Turkey hired a law firm in Washington to lobby the US government and Congress to get the export license. The latest blockade, however, risks forcing the two allies to cancel the deal, forcing Islamabad to pursue other options.

Written by Darren Bondi

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