Pakistan cancels order for Turkish T-129 helicopters to switch to Chinese Z-10

In 2018, the Turkish aviation industry achieved remarkable success by signing the sale of 30 T-129 ATAK combat helicopters, a locally made helicopter derived from the Italian A-129 Mangusta. This $ 1,5 billion contract was then the most important export contract ever won by this industry, allowing Ankara to nurture the hope of positioning itself as an international player in this market firmly held by the Americans, Europeans and Russians for several decades. With the military intervention in Syria, and the acquisition of batteries of S-400 anti-aircraft systems from Moscow, Turkey has however, from 2019, been the subject of severe sanctions from both Europeans and Americans regarding the export of certain defense technologies, and in particular the T-800 LHTEC turbines resulting from a joint venture between Rolls-Royce and Honeywell, which propel the aircraft.

On several occasions, the Pakistani authorities had given Turkey time to try to solve the problem, either by obtaining the necessary export licenses from Washington, or by equipping the device with another model of turbine. Despite Turkish efforts to shift the American position, without renouncing the S-400 batteries, the merger with Ukraine and motorist Motor-Sich, and the efforts made by the Turkish industry to try to develop a locally produced turbine, the contract has just been denounced by the Pakistani authorities, as confirmed by the head of public relations of the country's Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar.

Derived from the Italian Agusta A-129 Mangusta, the Turkish T-129 ATAK carries modernized avionics and offers an attractive price-performance ratio.

The latter also specified that Islamabad had undertaken to approach Beijing with a view to acquiring, as an alternative solution, a fleet of'Z-10ME combat helicopters, a modernized version intended for the export of the combat and anti-tank combat helicopter in service with the People's Liberation Army since 2012. It should be noted that Pakistan had acquired 3 of these aircraft in an earlier version in 2015, but finally opted for the T-129 in 2017. The Z-10ME, presented for the first time in 2018, notably has reinforced armor, turbines 20% more powerful than the version of origin (which was largely under-motorized ..), of modernized avionics and new defense systems. It can also implement the latest versions of Chinese air-to-surface munitions, such as the HJ-10 anti-tank missile and the TY90 air-to-air missile.


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