Pakistan extended delivery date of T129 attack helicopter

Pakistan has extended the delivery deadline for its order of 30 Turkish-made T129 helicopter gunships, Defense News reported on Tuesday amid U.S. reluctance to grant Turkey technology export licenses.

With the American move now seriously jeopardizing the sale of Turkish-made military hardware as many of it’s components are sourced from the US, the Turkish government has tasked Tusas Engine Industries, TAI’s sister company, with developing an indigenous engine for the T129 which may take up to ten years.

“Pakistan has agreed to give us another year [to resolve the problem]. We hope we will be able to develop our indigenous engine soon to power the T129,” Ismail Demir, the head of Turkey’s top procurement agency, said Jan. 6. “After one year, Pakistan may be satisfied with the level of progress in our engine program, or the U.S. may grant us the export license.”

In 2018, TAI signed a $1.5 billion agreement to sell a batch of 30 T129 helos to Pakistan. However, the company needs to secure U.S. export licenses for any export deal with a third country. TAI produces the 5-ton attack helicopter, which is based on its predecessor, the A129 Mangusta.

The T129 is a twin-engine multirole attack helicopter produced under license from the Italian-British company AgustaWestland. It’s powered by two LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engines. Each engine can produce 1,014 kilowatts of output power. The T800-4A is an export version of the CTS800 engine. LHTEC, the maker of the engine, is a joint venture between the American firm Honeywell and the British company Rolls-Royce.

A procurement source told Defense News on Jan. 10 that Pakistan is also lobbying the U.S. to support the deal.

Diplomatic ties between Turkey and the United States have deteriorated in the last few years over a number of issues, including Ankara’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems and U.S. support for Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State militant group in northern Syria. Turkish Air Force procured stockpiles of F-16 spare parts before the delivery of S-400 amidst a possible CAATSA sanctions on Turkish defense industries.

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