A Turkish variant of the Sikorsky S-70 helicopter will be built under license by Turkish Aerospace Industries. (Turkish Aerospace Industries)
ANKARA — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Friday that his government and US helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft had signed a long-dormant contract to co-produce an initial batch of 109 utility helicopters.
“We signed the $3.5 billion agreement today,” Erdogan said in televised remarks during a ceremony for the delivery by Boeing of Turkey’s first airborne early warning and control aircraft. “This [Sikorsky deal] was an important signing ceremony for us.”
In May, Turkey’s procurement office made an unusual announcement: Turkey “had come very close to signing a $3.5 billion contract with Sikorsky Aircraft for the co-production of scores of utility helicopters.” But penning the deal had since been delayed as top Turkish procurement management accused “US corporate and other bureaucracy” for factors that caused delays.
Turkey in 2011 selected Sikorsky as its partner company to lead production of the country’s next-generation utility helicopters. Sikorsky defeated Italian-British AgustaWestland by bidding its T-70, the Turkish version of its S-70 Black Hawk International.
The S-70 Black Hawk International is used by dozens of militaries, including Turkey. AgustaWestland was competing 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, defense analysts said.
Most 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 each getting their share. The remaining machines will go to the Security Directorate, meaning the police forces, and to the Firefighting Department. ■