Turkish officials have confirmed that Islamabad and Ankara have reached a defence agreement for the sale of 30 attack helicopters to Pakistan, reported Janes.
Pakistan will be buying Turkish Aerospace Industries’s (TAI) T129 attack helicopters.
The T129 is Turkey’s first locally manufactured platform under license. The T129 features a tandem seat cockpit, twin-engines and NATO-interoperability for attack, armed reconnaissance, precision-strike and deep-strike mission capabilities for day and night in all weather conditions. It can be armed with anti-tank missiles, various rocket pods and has a nose-mounted chaingun.
According to a political manifesto unveiled by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Pakistan and Turkey recently agreed on terms on the largest ever defence contract signed between the two countries.
TAI, maker of the T129 under license from the Italian-British AgustaWestland, has so far delivered 35 T129s to the Turkish Army and the Gendarmerie force.
Pakistan is known to have evaluated the Turkish-built version of the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta as part of an ongoing effort to procure new attack helicopters for Army Aviation.
With the Pakistan Army having already ordered 12 US-built Bell AH-1Z Vipers, it had since 2014 been testing the Chinese-built Z-10 the Turkish-made T129 since 2016.
Pakistan Army Aviation commander Major General Nasir Shah told Janes earlier in the year that Islamabad was considering only a number of options to replace the ageing fleet of Bell AH-1 Cobras. The country recently received four Mi-35 attack helicopters from Russia, and will soon receive AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters.
“Army Aviation has plans to further enhance its attack helicopter fleet, and various options are currently being considered and evaluated,” Gen Shah said on January 31 at the IQPC Military Helicopter conference in London.
“The [current 32] AH-1 helicopters have provided effective close support for our ground forces engaged in counter-insurgency [COIN] operations, but they cannot be employed effectively in high-altitude operations above 8,000 ft,” he added.
Before the deal, the T129 went through various tests in Pakistan. Most recently, the the paltform was showcased at the March 23 military parade.
“We expect further [T-129] contracts to follow the order from Pakistan,” a Turkish defense procurement official said. “We are in talks with a number of countries.”
The Turkish government has not disclosed a price for the T129 deal with Pakistan, but aerospace industry sources estimate the contract to be worth about $1.5 billion, almost equivalent of Turkey’s annual defense exports.