T-129 ATAK: Turkish President’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said that the United States has prevented Pakistan from supplying locally built attack helicopters to Turkey.
Daily Sabah reported that during a briefing on Monday, Kalin mentioned that the US had blocked Turkey’s helicopter sale to Pakistan, which would cause Islamabad to buy from China and cause more damage to Washington.
The ATAK-12 is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-roll, all-weather attack chopper based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta platform and is equipped with American engines according to Dawn.
The US is seeking export approval for the LHTEC engine. Turkey and Pakistan signed a US $ 1.5 billion deal for Turkish-built helicopter gunships in July 2018.
But the delivery date was pushed back after the Pentagon refused to issue an export license for engines to the Turkish company.
The blockade of the United States comes as an effect of US sanctions on Turkey, which began with Ankara’s decision to purchase the S-400 missile from Russia.
The US announced the first blockade in July 2019, a few days before the meeting between former US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington.
In January 2020, Turkey’s Defense Industries (SSB) chief said that Ankara and Islamabad extended the delivery deal by one more year to ensure smooth delivery.
The agreement gives Pakistan the option of purchasing Chinese Z-10 helicopters, which should not materialize the Turkish deal.
Turkish media reports stated that the Turkish-built T-129 ATAK helicopter was still on the Pakistan Army’s shopping list.
In August 2020, Turkey hired a Washington law firm to lobby the US administration and Congress to obtain an export license, which would help it complete its largest defense deal with Pakistan.
However, the fresh blockade is likely to force both allies to cancel the deal, persuading Islamabad to look for other options.
America officials in Washington were contacted for comment on the announcement made in Ankara, but did not respond.