According to Bloomberg News, The sale of Turkish-made T129 ATAK helicopter to Pakistan has hit a roadblock as procurement of engines has been made difficult, as the US government failed to issue the export permit to the manufacturer.
This news came after Turkey’s Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters on Monday, “the US has blocked Turkey’s helicopter sale to Pakistan, which will likely lead to Islamabad buying it from China.”
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The ATAK T-129 is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta platform and is equipped with American engines.
In July 2018, Turkey and Pakistan signed a $1.5 billion deal for the Turkish-made gunship helicopters, however, the delivery date was postponed after the Pentagon refused to issue the Turkish company an export license for the engines.
The deal between Ankara and Islamabad sees the delivery of 30 T129 ATAK helicopters to Pakistan. Pakistan’s current AH-1F Cobra gunships lack the capability to perform adequately over the higher altitudes of the Hindu Kush mountain range, separating Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in partnership with an Anglo-Italian firm, Agusta-Westland, the ATAK T-129 helicopter is designed for advanced attack and reconnaissance missions in hot and high environments in both days and night conditions.
According to Turkish officials, the blockade is the result of Ankara’s decision to buy S-400 missiles from Russia. Mr. Kalin added that the country was forced to buy from Russia because the US had refused to supply the Patriot air defense missile systems to Turkey on good terms. He said that the sanctions are a deterrence for countries to not sign any military deals with rival Russia.
The US announced the first blockade in 2019, days before PM Khan and then POTUS Trump met in Washington.
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In the biggest military deal between two allies, the agreement gives Pakistan the option to buy Chinese Z-10 helicopters should the deal with Turkey fail. The latest blockade, however, is likely to force the two allies to cancel the deal, persuading Islamabad to look for other options.