US 'finds formula' to sell Cobras to Turkey

Top Pentagon officials will submit this plan for approval by the new administration under Barack Obama, who took office yesterday as the 44th US president.

US 'finds formula' to sell Cobras to Turkey

Amidst reports that Turkey has been negotiating with Russia for the purchase of around 32 Mi-28 attack helicopters as a stop-gap measure to meet its urgent needs in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Pentagon has developed a formula that will allow it to sell four or five Cobra attack helicopters to Ankara.

Under this new formula, the US-based Bell Helicopter firm will interrupt the Cobra production currently under way for the US Marine Corps and instead use the production line to manufacture helicopters for Turkey, according to well-informed Turkish defense industry sources in Ankara.

Top Pentagon officials will submit this plan for approval by the new administration under Barack Obama, who took office yesterday as the 44th US president, Today's Zaman has learned.

The US had turned down a Turkish request made early last year for the purchase of AH-1W "Whiskey" Super Cobra attack helicopters as a stop-gap measure for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), which has a shortage of Cobras in its inventory. The US had cited the unavailability of Cobras and offered instead Boeing-made Apache attack helicopters, which were turned down by Ankara.

Turkey has six AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters ready for combat from its original 12, while the remaining six either crashed or are no longer in service.

Today's Zaman learned in December last year that Turkey had started negotiations with Russia for the purchase of around 32 Mi-28 attack helicopters at a cost of around $1 billion.

Until the attack helicopters that Turkey will produce in cooperation with AgustaWestland over the next five years begin to enter service, Turkey planned to buy Russian attack helicopters to bridge the gap, domestic defense industry sources had said.

Ankara's plan to buy Russian helicopters as an interim measure might have prompted the US to develop a formula to sell Cobras to Turkey, a Turkish defense industry source said.

Though both Turkish and the Russian sources were quiet over a possible Turkish purchase of Russian helicopters, on Dec. 28 Russia's RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russian helicopter chief Andrei Shibitov as saying that the Turkish government was exploring the possibility of purchasing helicopters, although no deal had been signed.

Though Ankara signed a deal worth around $3.5 billion with AgustaWestland for attack helicopters in June last year, the TSK turned down AgustaWestland's offer to sell off-the-shelf A129 Mangusta attack helicopters as an interim measure.

The TSK turned down the Italian offer on the grounds that the existing A129 helicopters would not have met its urgent requirements.

The project with AgustaWestland involves the joint production of 50 helicopters with an option for another 41 at the facilities of the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the main contractor in the project, using the maximum amount of domestic resources. The helicopters to be produced at TAI will be named T129 and will be based on the Italian A129 design, but configured to meet Turkish requirements.

The first T129 helicopter is scheduled to be delivered to the Turkish Land Forces Command on June 24, 2013. The remaining 49 helicopters are planned to be delivered within four-and-a-half years after that date.

Today's Zaman

Last Mod: 21 Ocak 2009, 12:24
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