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Turkey chooses US helicopters for $3.5 billion deal

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 4/21/2011 12:00:00 AM | ÜMİT ENGİNSOY

Turkey on Thursday selected the US firm Sikorsky as the partner company that will lead the production of its next generation of utility helicopters.

Turkey on Thursday selected the U.S. firm Sikorsky as the partner company that will lead the production of its next generation of utility helicopters.

The decision was made at a meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee, Turkey’s highest decision-making body on defense procurement. The committee’s members include Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, Chief of General Staff Gen. Isık Koşaner and procurement chief Murad Bayar.

Gönül told reporters after the meeting that cost of the project, which covers the acquisition of 109 helicopters, was $3.5 billion. He added that the number of helicopters could reach 600 in the future.

Several Turkish companies, most notably Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI, will take part in the joint production of the platforms.

“Some important components of the helicopters, such as the body, engine, avionic systems and task software, will be produced in Turkey as TAI will be the main contractor,” Gönül said.

Following the committee’s decision, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries and Sikorsky will launch contract negotiations for the building of a first batch of utility helicopters.

Sikorsky was competing with AgustaWestland for the contract. Sikorsky offered its T-70, the Turkish version of its S-70 Black Hawk International, which presently is being used by the militaries of dozens of countries, including Turkey. AgustaWestland was competing with its TUHP 149, the Turkish version of its newly developed A-149.

The Turkish decision comes at the end of a final round of talks with the two competing companies. Sikorsky Aircraft and AgustaWestland, a Italian-British firm, have thus far announced benefit packages worth billions of dollars each.

Most of the helicopters in the first batch will go to the military, with the Gendarmerie Forces receiving the lion’s share, and the Army, Navy, Air Force and Special Forces Command getting part of the platforms.

The remaining choppers will go to the Security Directorate, or police forces, and to the Firefighting Department.

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