Pakistan plans buying $1.5 billion combat attack helicopters from Turkey

Pakistan plans buying $1.5 billion combat attack helicopters from Turkey

LAHORE/ANKARA: Turkish producers of tactical military goods, Askeri Elektronik Sanayi, Military Electronic Industries (ASELSAN), and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) have set their sight on expanding their activities in Pakistan after labelling it “a very important market.”

The Turkish defence equipment manufacturers have been hot in demand among the South Asian and Middle Eastern countries with a number of nations expressing interest in gaining contracts with them and other Turkish corporations.

Pakistan, too, had been among these countries with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, during his recent visit to Ankara, personally participating in a test flight of a T-129 attack helicopter manufactured by TAI.

PM Abbasi poses before the test flight of the Turkish T-129 Combat Helicopter.

According to reports, Pakistan is thinking of spending almost $1.5 billion to replace its worn-out Bell AH-1F and AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters with 30 T-129s from Turkey.

On the other hand, Turkish manufacturers are also interested in Pakistan. While Turkey’s search for markets in South Asia is not confined to Pakistan and includes Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, it has been Pakistan that they have generally favoured.

Speaking exclusively to Pakistan Today, Turkish defence industry expert Arda Mevlutoglu explained this by saying that Pakistan and Turkey “are strong regional powers with very strong relations. By conducting joint research and development programmes, the two countries can share risks and costs, which is essential to undertake high-profile projects. Another benefit would be leverage for export to third countries.”

Arda Mevlutoglu, an expert on the Turkish defence industry.

Pakistan must respond with vigour, however, as Turkey is in a hurry to find markets, and Pakistan would be better off cashing in on their comparative advantage to other countries.

“Turkey needs to increase the export sales of her defence industry in order to achieve sustainability and growth. The Middle East and South Asia are primary markets because of deep cultural, historical and political connections. It is relatively easy for Turkey to develop business with the countries in these regions,” explained Mevlutoglu.

He also added that the companies in question, especially ASELSAN and TAI, are both top-of-the-line manufacturers that Pakistan will want to do business with in order to best equip their military.