U.S. crisis snags Turkey's record $1.5 billion helicopter deal

Turkish plans to sell 30 ATAK helicopters to Pakistan for $1.5 billion, a deal lauded by the government as the country’s single biggest export order, is being threatened by a diplomatic crisis with the United States, Hurriyet newspaper reported.

The agreement will be delayed unless Turkey gets export permission from the U.S. Department of Defense by November, Hurriyet’s Eray Gorgulu wrote citing unidentified sources in the defence industry. Washington holds a veto over exports of the aircraft due to the helicopters’ engines.

The United States imposed sanctions on Turkey this week for its failure to release U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson and other Americans from custody on terrorism charges. The U.S. government is also considering excluding Turkey from a preferential duty-free trade deal and Congress may block the sale of F-35 jet fighters to the country.

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) owns the rights to the whole platform of the T129 ATAK helicopter, based on the Agusta A129, originally designed and produced by Italian firm Agusta. But the United States holds an export veto because TAI produces the helicopter’s LHTEC CTS800-4N engines under license.