Pakistan extends deadline for shaky $1.5 bln Turkish helicopter deal

Pakistan has extended the delivery deadline for its order of 30 Turkish-made T129 helicopter gunships, Defense News reported on Tuesday.

The extension comes amid souring relations between Turkey and the United States, which has not granted an export license for the T129’s twin engines. The delay risks jeopardising the $1.5 billion deal between Turkish Aerospace Industries and the Pakistani government.

As an emergency measure, TAI’s sister company, Tusas Engine Industries, has been asked by the Turkish government to begin development of a homegrown engine for the helicopters.

“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,” Defense News quoted İsmail Demir, the head of Turkey’s top procurement agency, as saying.

But industry sources told Defense News that an engine development programme would take around five to 10 years to be successful. Pakistan is reportedly 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.