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Spotlight: Major contracts with Pakistan suggest revival of Turkey's defense industry: expert
Last Updated: 2018-07-17 07:31 | Xinhua
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Turkey's defense industry has clinched major export deals with Pakistan recently, which are expected to mobilize Turkey's domestic market at a tough time of the NATO country's economy.

Last week, Turkey and Pakistan inked a deal on the sale of 30 Turkish-made T129 ATAK multi-function combat helicopters, the largest export deal from Turkey to another country.

The agreement is reportedly worth some 1.5 billion U.S. dollars. Turkey also agreed to provide logistics service, spare parts, training and ammunition.

Ankara also plans to sell the helicopters to potential buyers such as Azerbaijan, Jordan and Libya, said industry sources to Xinhua, adding that "preliminary contacts have been engaged with interested countries but it is very early to say anything before an expected negotiation stage."

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the maker of the T129, has so far delivered 35 helicopters to the Turkish army, used mainly in southeastern Turkey against the Kurdish rebels.

Several weeks earlier, Turkish officials announced a big contract to build four corvettes for the Pakistani navy.

The multi-billion-dollar agreement came after a very competitive bidding process, during which Turkish firms faced all kinds of strategies, including price lowering, from other bidders.

The project is expected to mobilize Turkey's domestic market. The process of building four corvettes for Pakistan will involve approximately 1,000 medium-sized companies while employing hundreds of engineers at a time when the Turkish economy shows signs of vulnerabilities.

According to the final agreement, two ships will be built in Istanbul and two others in Karachi, Pakistan. Two of the corvettes will join the Pakistani Naval Forces in 2023.

The first ship will be completed in 54 months and the other three will be built in 60, 66 and 72 months, respectively.

Turkey's defense industry has been selling smaller naval vessels for several years such as patrol boats which have been in use in Georgia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Qatar, but it had not until now succeeded in selling big warships.

The corvettes, which can cruise for 15 days, will be 99.56 meters long and 14.42 meters wide with a maximum speed of 26 knots, or 48.15 km per hour.

The deal also includes the sharing of engineering information and training program for engineers.

Turkey has built four corvettes so far within the framework of the national shipbuilding program, while a fifth vessel is under construction. The country's goal is to build eight corvettes within the scope of the program.

Experts believed that these two major contracts signal the revival of the Turkish defense industry, as the deals proved the competitiveness of the industry.

"This is a significant success for the defense industry as a whole," said Ozgur Eksi, a defence analyst with C4Defence, a web information site which specializes in global defense news and contracts.

He explained that the two contracts could be followed by others.

"These contracts are likely to pave the way for others in the future," said Eksi, pointing out that Ankara was in contact with Morocco and Jordan for its ATAK helicopter.

Turkish Anadolu news agency revealed recently details of the country's defense and aerospace export with figures for the first six months of 2018, showing a year-on-year increase in expert sales of nearly 14 percent.

Turkey's other indigenous programs include the TF-X fighter jet, still at its infancy, the new generation battle tank Altay, several armed and unarmed drones, unmanned land and naval vehicles, satellites and several armed vehicle models.

Meanwhile, two state-controlled companies, Aselsan and Roketsan, are in talks for several months with European anti-air missile manufacturer Eurosam for the joint development and production of an indigenous air and anti-missile defense system which would be compatible with the NATO systems.

Ankara has concluded a deal with Moscow to purchase Russian made S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems despite warnings from its NATO rallies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who won the re-election last month, has declared in his vision for 2023 a set of goals including becoming one of the 10 biggest economies in the world and a self-sufficient state in terms of defense.

For many years, Turkey has spent billions of dollars in arms purchases from the United States and Germany predominantly, but the rising tension between Ankara and these two countries since the failed coup in 2016 has taken a toll on arms procurement mechanisms.

Some U.S. senators have initiated congressional actions against the delivery of F-35 warplanes to Turkey amid escalating political spat between the two NATO allies, threatening to suspend delivery of the stealth fighter to Ankara because of the latter's purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.

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