Turkey on Thursday selected Italy's Agusta Westland's Mangusta A 129 model in its long-standing attack and tactical reconnaissance helicopter acquisition project, eliminating South African Denel's Rooivalk.
The most important reason for Mangusta's selection was the price differences with Denel, Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül said at the end of an around three-and-a-half-hour meeting of the Executive Committee of the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM), the top decision-making organ in Turkish arms procurement.
The committee is composed of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan, Minister Gönül and Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaþar Büyükanýt. "The project [for attack helicopter acquisition] has been finalized after 12 years," said Gönül.
When asked, Gönül stated that the project cost for the production of 50 helicopters would be around $2.7 billion.
TUSAS Aerospace Industries (TAI) will be the main contractor and Alenia will be sub-contractor in the project, Gönül added, noting that the project would be called T-129 from now on, marking a Turco-Italian joint partnership in developing the helicopters.
Though the minister did not reveal the figures, Denel reportedly offered slightly less than 50 percent of Alenia's bid for the production of the helicopters with a high local content.
With earlier speculation that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) favored the US Apache or King Cobra for an off-the-shelf purchase, the SSM Executive Committee decision to select Italy's Alenia came as a surprise.
But Turkish industry sources do not rule out the possibility of Turkey buying off-the-shelf attack helicopters from the US in the future, bearing in mind that the delivery of Turkish-Italian joint production attack helicopters could take longer than expected.
US companies cannot bid in Turkey's major arms procurement projects due to contract terms and conditions, under which only companies that can obtain government authorization for the transfer of export licenses may offer bids.
US law prohibits issuance of export licenses before companies have won the bid in question.
Gönül also announced the selection of local Otokar for the local design and development of around four to six prototypes for an estimated cost of $500 million.
Once the prototypes are produced the SSM will decide on the production of 250 tanks under a separate deal.
The local FNSS-BMC partnership is also competing in this project. As part of Turkish policy to increase local production in military projects, the SSM Executive Committee has also decided to contract local Dearsan for the production at its Ýstanbul shipyards of new 56-meter-long patrol boats. The project is estimated to cost around 400 million euros.
Today's Zaman Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16