On July 13 this year, Turkey signed a deal to sell Pakistan 30 T129 ATAK helicopter gunships, to the tune of $1.5 billion, because the Pakistani army’s AH-1F Cobra gunships cannot perform adequately over the higher altitudes of the Hindu Kush mountain range separating Pakistan from Afghanistan, Defense News reported Tuesday. Now, the economic row between President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has put this deal in jeopardy.
A Turkish aerospace official said that the problem is related to the US-made parts for which Turkish Aerospace Industries would need US export licenses in order to carry out the deal. The T129 is produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries under a license from Italian-British helicopter design and manufacturing company AgustaWestland.
“This is not a technological or financial matter but is purely political at the moment,” the official said.
The economic war with the US threatens the future of Turkey’s economy, as on Monday the Turkish lira has lost 81.5 percent of its value against the dollar.
Another TAI official doubted the possibility that the US would embargo the T129 deal, because this would hurt a US company, two British companies and one Italian company. The same official suggested: “These are not enemy producers, they are on the allied side. And we (TAI) are not being sanctioned by the US or any other allied country.”
One must note how refreshing it is to read a statement by a Turkish official who recognizes that Turkey, a member of NATO, belongs to the Western camp. We suggest, however, that he check this with his president.