Pakistan has again agreed to delay delivery of the T129

Pakistan has again agreed to delay delivery of the T129
Pakistan has agreed to another delay in the delivery of T129 attack helicopters from Turkey. Although Turkey has started developing a Turkish version of the T129 to replace its existing American-made engines, Pakistan’s desire to acquire the helicopters remains a long way off, according to current developments.

In charge of the Department of Defence Industries of Turkey (SAVUNMA SANAYII BA), Ismail Demir told reporters as Pakistan has agreed to an additional 6 months ‘delay in the delivery of the T129 helicopters. It will be the second time the deal has been delayed.

Pakistan’s planned purchase of the Turkish T129 stems from its plans to upgrade its army aviation fleet to replace the AH-1 Cobra helicopters in service since the 1980s. In addition to the home-made T129, which Pakistan began negotiating and won in 2014, the helicopters under consideration include AVIC’s Zhi-10 attack helicopter. At one point in 2015, Pakistan even acquired three Zh-10s for testing inside Pakistan. According to the Defence News Network, the Z-10 was not favoured by the Pakistani side at the time and the three Z-10 attack helicopters were eventually returned. In 2017, Turkey offered Pakistan $1.5 billion in loans. The two countries reached an agreement later that year, with Turkish Aerospace Industries securing an order to supply Pakistan with 30 T129 attack helicopters at a contract price of $1.5 billion.

The export of the T129 helicopter, a licensed production version of the A129 attack helicopter, was developed by the Italian-British company AgustaWestland. The 5-ton T129 multifunctional attack helicopter is powered by two US-made T800-4A engines. The engine is an export version of the CTS800, with a single output of 1014 kW.

Pakistan has again agreed to delay delivery of the T129
The United States has decided to restrict exports to Turkey over the purchase of Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, including engines for the T129 helicopter. That is why, despite delivering more than 50 of the T129 helicopters to the Turkish army, Turkey needs to develop new engines for export to Pakistan. Pakistan for the first time in early 2020 agreed to extend the delivery time of the T129 in collaboration with Turkish Aerospace Industries and its sister company TEI (Tusas Engine Industries) to develop new engines. The company developing the new engine, TEI, is a joint venture between Turkish Aerospace Industries and General Electric of the US. Ismail Demir, the head of Turkey’s Defence Industry Agency, was confident that Pakistan would be satisfied a year later that the next stage of engine development would be reached and that the United States would ease export restrictions accordingly.

The United States is continuing to press Turkey to abandon the purchase of a Russian-made S-400 air defense missile system by the end of 2020. That is despite Honeywell International’s offer to resume engine exports to Turkey. But when Biden took office in 2021, the proposal was rejected by Congress. In March 2021, after an initial delay of about a year, Pakistan had to agree to another delay in the delivery of the T129 attack helicopter.

This is the largest procurement cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey, and Turkey hopes this cooperation will serve as a demonstration to attract more customers in the future. Ismail Demir, head of the Turkish Defence Industry Agency, believes that the restrictions on engine exports are deliberately imposed by the United States. The cooperation between the two countries became a victim of the diplomatic struggle between Turkey and the United States. Sources told Defence News that the US move is not only considering sanctions against Turkey, but also that the export of weapons systems to Pakistan will put more pressure on the Indian military, which is currently the focus of US defence cooperation.

In an interview with Defense News, Brian Clafley, a former Australian military attache in Pakistan, said Pakistan is wary of using American-made equipment because of continued pressure from the United States to supply it with materials. And the US will be more careful not to let Pakistan pose a new threat to India. The military attache believes that the way out for Pakistan to seek a solution to the problem is still in China: Pakistan may again consider the Chinese Zhi-10ME helicopter.