May. 7, 2013 By BURAK EGE BEKDIL – Defense news
ANKARA — Turkish procurement officials said they are near to signing a $3.5 billion contract with Sikorsky Aircraft for the co-production of scores of utility helicopters.
Turkey’s procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), posted on its web page May 6 that it had come to the final round of contract negotiations on the deal.
Turkey in 2011 selected Sikorsky Aircraft as its partner company to lead production of the country’s next-generation utility helicopters. Sikorsky, with its T-70, the Turkish version of its S-70 Black Hawk International, defeated Italian-British AgustaWestland.
A contract has been pending since then and industry sources rumored major problems during contract negotiations. The first batch of the co-production program involved 109 platforms.
“We have come a long way to put the final seal on the deal. We faced tough moments during talks but we have now reached a point that satisfies both parties,” a Turkish official familiar with the program said May 7.
The S-70 Black Hawk International is used by the militaries of dozens of countries, including Turkey. AgustaWestland had competed with its TUHP 149, the Turkish version of its newly developed A-149.
The first batch will be for 109 utility helicopters, but with follow-on orders more than 600 platforms could be built at a cost of more than $20 billion, according to defense analysts.
Sikorsky and AgustaWestland had announced benefit packages worth billions of dollars each. Several Turkish companies, most notably Turkish Aerospace Industries, will take part in the joint production.
Most of the helicopters in the first batch will go to the military, with the Gendarmerie receiving the largest portion, and the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Special Forces Command all getting their shares. The remaining choppers will go to the Security Directorate, meaning the police forces, and to the Firefighting Department.