Turkey nears deal for US heavy lift helicopters
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 6/6/2011 12:00:00 AM | ÜMİT ENGİNSOY
Turkey has neared a deal with the United States to buy six Boeing-made CH-47 heavy lift military transport helicopters, worth over $300 million, said a senior procurement official.
Turkey has neared a deal with the United States to buy six Boeing-made CH-47 heavy lift military transport helicopters, worth over $300 million, a senior procurement official said at the weekend.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, or DSCA, the Pentagon's body coordinating weapons sales, notified Congress of a potential sale of a total of 14 CH-47F heavy lift helicopters in December 2009, and Congress' permission came later that month.
But because of financial constraints, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, or SSM, Turkey's procurement agency, wanted to buy only six CH-47Fs, all for the Army, leaving a decision for the remaining eight platforms to the future. Contract negotiations among the SSM, the U.S. government and Boeing were launched last year.
"Now the contract talks almost have come to an end, and are expected to be concluded very soon. The total price is expected to be over $300 million," the procurement official told Hürriyet Daily News. "After the helicopters begin to arrive, we plan to make some modifications on them according to suit our specific needs."
The six CH-47F Chinooks will be the first heavy lift helicopters in the Turkish Army's inventory. Their deliveries are expected to begin in 2013.
Developed in the late 1960s, the Chinooks have been exported to many countries, including Australia, Britain, Canada, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
The Chinooks have been successfully operated in combat conditions in several wars and armed conflicts.
[HH] Other helicopter programs
Heavy lift platforms are only one of the several major helicopter deals Turkey has concluded or was still seeking.
In 2008 and 2010, Turkey signed two contracts worth billions of dollars with the Italian AgustaWestland for joint manufacture of 60 T-129 attack helicopters for the Army, Turkish versions of the company's AW-129 chopper.
Earlier this year, Turkey chose the U.S. Sikorsky Aircraft for joint production of a first batch of 109 T-70 utility helicopters, Turkish versions of the firm's S-70i Black Hawk International.
Next year, Turkey is expected to choose a foreign partner for joint manufacture and marketing of hundreds of light utility helicopters, weighing between 4,500 kilograms and 5,500 kilograms.
Heavy lift military transport helicopters are much larger versions of utility helicopters. The Chinook is a twin-engine, twin-rotor helicopter. The counter-rotating rotors eliminate the need for an anti-torque vertical rotor, allowing all power to be used for lift and thrust.
The CH-47F is the upgraded version of the CH-47D, and is the latest model in this helicopter family. It can carry up to 60 troops and personnel.