Turkey signs gunship contract with AgustaWestland
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 11/9/2010 12:00:00 AM | ÜMİT ENGİNSOY
Turkey signed a contract worth nearly 150 million euros Monday with a helicopter manufacturer to produce nine T129 attack helicopters
Turkey signed a contract worth nearly 150 million euros Monday with Italian-British helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland for the urgent production of nine T129 attack helicopters, multiple sources said Tuesday.
The contract was signed by officials from AgustaWestland, Turkish defense procurement agency the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Turkey’s prime contractor of helicopter programs Turkish Aerospace Industries, and Turkey's main military electronics company Aselsan, a subcontractor for the program.
Turkey already has a separate, multibillion-dollar contract with AgustaWestland for the joint manufacture of 51 T129 attack helicopters, a Turkish version of the company's A129. In the wake of alleged attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, that killed a number of Turkish soldiers in June, Ankara decided to urgently buy an additional nine gunships from AgustaWestland.
The nine helicopters will be delivered partially armed, with Turkish authorities able to decide on the final deployment of the weapons systems to be assembled on the vehicles.
The nine attack helicopters would begin to be delivered in 2012, one year before AgustaWestland plans to begin delivering the 51 T129s in the larger gunship program.
"The contract is valued at 150 million euros including a spare parts package," AgustaWestland said on its website.
"I am delighted that the order for nine additional T129 helicopters has been executed," said Guiseppe Orsi, CEO of AgustaWestland, which is owned by the Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica.
AgustaWestland is also competing with U.S. firm Sikorsky Aircraft for another Turkish contract worth $4 billion to jointly produce 109 utility helicopters, mostly to be used by military and security forces.
AgustaWestland is proposing its TUHP 149, also known as the T149, the Turkish version of its A149, a newly-developed utility helicopter, while Sikorsky Aircraft is offering the T-70, the Turkish version of the S-70 Black Hawk International, which already features on ordnance inventories in dozens of countries around the world, including Turkey.
Turkey's Defense Industry Executive Committee, the highest decision-making body on arms procurement, is expected to select a manufacturer in December. Members of the committee include Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner, and Chief Procurement Officer Murad Bayar.