US blocks Turkish armed helicopters supply to Pakistan
The United States has stopped Turkey from supplying around 30 locally-made helicopter gunships to Pakistan, DAWN reported on Wednesday.
It was revealed by Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin on Monday that “the US has blocked Turkey’s helicopter sale to Pakistan, which will likely lead to Islamabad buying it from China.” Bloomberg News reported.
The spokesman further said that the blockade could “cause more harm” to US interests.
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.
Earlier in July, 2018, Turkey and Pakistan had signed a $1.5 billion deal for Turkish-made attack helicopters (ATAK T-129) but the delivery was halted by the Pentagon’s refusal to issue an export license for the engines to the Turkish company.
According to DAWN‘s report, 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 and the US is holding up export clearance for the LHTEC engine.
“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 report added.
The military helicopter, developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in partnership with a European firm, Agusta-Westland, is designed for advanced attack and reconnaissance missions in hot and high environments in both day and night conditions.
However, the latest blockade will make an impact on the Pak-Turkish deal which may force the allies to cancel it.
According to DAWN, US officials in Washington did not respond or comment on the announcement made in Ankara.