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Pakistan cancels attack helicopter project with Turkey, opting for China

Pakistan has cancelled its planned T129 attack helicopter procurement from Turkey, opting instead to pursue the Chinese-built Z-10ME.

Pakistan Army spokesman Major Gen Babar Iftikhar made the announcement on 5 January.

“As far as the Turkish deal is concerned, we have moved on,” Iftikhar said during a press conference when asked whether the contract was still intact. He said negotiations were under way with China to procure new Z-10ME attack helicopters.

The T129 helicopter, produced by Turkish Aerospace (TA) under licence from Leonardo, is powered by US-built LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engines. The US refusal to grant Turkey an export licence for the engine appears to be what has led to the cancellation of a sale of 30 T129 helicopters to Pakistan under a USD1.5 billion deal signed in 2018.

Though the United States has stymied the engine sale to Pakistan, it has recently granted an export licence to Turkey for its sale of six T129 helicopters to the Philippines.

Turkey has not so far made an official statement on the issue; Turkish defence sources told Janes that Pakistan has not yet informed Ankara of its cancellation of the project.

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