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Turkey Avoids Decision On New Helicopter

The Turkish Government's Defense Industry Executive Committee (SSIK) held a meeting and announced a variety of initiatives to modernize their military. The SSIK is made up of the Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Chief of the General Staff and guides military procurement decisions in line with national strategy. One announcement that had been expected was a decision on whether to purchase a new general support helicopter.

Turkey has received bids from Augusta Westland and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (SAC) for an initial buy of about one hundred aircraft. These would have been variants of the A149 or the S-70 customized for Turkey's needs. Part of the deal would have seen production carried out in Turkey. The ultimate production run could be over four hundred aircraft to equip the Army, Navy, police and security forces. This award would be one of the major contracts for rotary wing aircraft in the world.

Turkey often requires technology transfer and production carried out internally when they award big contracts. This construct would seem to favor Augusta as the current U.S. policy makes it hard to transfer and produce advanced technology in foriegn countries. The S-70i is an international version of the ubiquitous UH-60 Black Hawk in service with the U.S. Army and many other military forces. Turkey as a NATO member might have an easier time getting the technology and rights then other customers.

The SSIK stated that a decision on this contract would be made at a later date but none was given. Obviously both companies want to win this as not only would it be a major win but would provide more production capability to support other contracts. The initial buy is valued at over $1 billion and the total contract could be four or five times that.