Turkey Get U.S. License to Export T129 ATAK Helicopter to the Philippines

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The U.S. has granted Turkey a licence to export engines mounted on its T129 Tactical Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter (ATAK) that it wants to export to the Philippines.

“Washington had issued the required paperwork regarding the sale of an initially designated number of six attack helicopters,” Serdar Demir, marketing and communications director of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), was quoted as saying by Daily Sabah.

The engine in question is the LHTEC T800-4A made by a joint venture between American firm Honeywell and British company Rolls-Royce. The engine was sold initially to power the T129 twin-engine helicopter for Turkey’s domestic consumption. For export to a third country, U.S. permit is required if American military grade content exceeds 10%.

Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana had announced on Dec. 7, 2018, that his country will acquire the T129 helicopters and that six units would be purchased initially. Subsequently, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Turkey and the Philippines for the sale of the choppers, which until now had not been realized due to the export license barrier.

The export of the ATAK helicopter to the Philippines should open the door for similar exports to Pakistan. The TAI also has a $1.5 billion contract with Pakistan that includes the sale of 30 T129 helicopters that are currently awaiting U.S. permission to export the engine.

The engine export license did not need Congressional authorization because it was below the amount required by law for congressional oversight that covers major defense sales of $25 million or higher with NATO allies. “The license was directly issued by the State Department,” an unnamed the official was cited as saying.

Turkey has so far manufactured 61 T129 helicopters which use the LHTEC T800-4A. Parallely, Turkey has commenced a program to develop a domestic helicopter engine and plans to eventually replace the Honeywell-RR engine with it.