Turkey, Pakistan shake hands on largest-ever defense contract

Turkey and Pakistan have agreed to the sale of 30 Turkish-made T129 ATAK combat helicopters in the two countries’ largest ever defense contract, defense news website reported.

The agreement was revealed in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) election manifesto released ahead of the nation’s parliamentary and presidential elections slated for June 24, the site said, noting that the two countries have been negotiating a T129 deal since 2014.

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is the manufacturer of the combat helicopters under license from the Italian-British AgustaWestland.

“We expect further [T-129] contracts to follow the order from Pakistan,” the site quoted a Turkish defense procurement official as saying. “We are in talks with a number of countries.”

One TAI official said that potential buyers for the T-129 could include Jordan, Libya and Azerbaijan.

While the Turkish government has not disclosed a price for the deal with Pakistan, aerospace industry sources estimate the contract to be worth about $1.5 billion, almost equivalent of Turkey’s annual defense exports, the site said.

The T129 helicopters are Turkey’s first locally made platforms under license.

TAI is also in talks with Pakistan for the sale of its Hurkus basic trainer aircraft.

In 2017,  Pakistan signed 10 agreements with Turkey to enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields, including exchange of financial intelligence, hydrocarbon and defence cooperation.