US prevents Turkey from delivering gunships to Pakistan

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Turkey has been prevented by the United States from supplying 30 locally-made attack helicopters to Pakistan, Dawn newspaper quoting diplomatic sources from Washington has reported.

According to Bloomberg News, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters on Monday that “the US has blocked Turkey’s helicopter sale to Pakistan, which will likely lead to Islamabad buying it from China.”

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.

The US is holding up export clearance for the LHTEC engine.

The blockade could “cause more harm” to US interests, Kalin added.

Turkey and Pakistan signed a $1.5 billion deal for the Turkish-made helicopter gunships in July 2018. But the delivery date was pushed back after the Pentagon refused to issue the Turkish company an export license for the engines.

The Turkish official mentioned the US blockade while briefing journalists on the impact of US sanctions on Turkey, triggered by Ankara’s decision to buy S-400 missiles from Russia.

Developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in partnership with a European firm, Agusta-Westland, the ATAK T-129 helicopter is designed for advanced attack and reconnaissance missions in hot and high environments in both day and night conditions.

The United States announced the first blockade in July 2019, days before a meeting between the former US president, Donald Trump, and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington.

The latest blockade, however, is likely to force the two allies to cancel the deal, persuading Islamabad to look for other options.

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