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US blocks sale of Turkish attack helicopters to Pakistan


Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

The US has blocked the sale of Turkish-made T129 ATAK helicopter gunships to Pakistan, days ahead of the first meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Donald Trump, a media report said Friday.

Turkey and Pakistan signed a USD 1.5 billion deal for the Turkish-made helicopter gunships on July 13, 2018.

The delivery date of the first helicopter was pushed back after the Pentagon last year "refused" to issue the Turkish company with an export license for the delivery of the gunships' CTS800 engines, which was part of the T129 ATAK helicopter, The EurAsian Times reported Friday.

The report was first published in the communist site SOL.

T129 ATAK ia s multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter. Developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) with partner AgustaWestland, the helicopter is designed for advanced attack and reconnaissance missions in hot and high environments and rough geography in both day and night conditions.

The US' decision is part of the Trump administration's move not to provide any security assistance to Pakistan till the time it takes decisive and irreversible actions against terrorist groups.

The Indian leadership and its diplomats based in Washington DC during their interaction with top US officials and lawmakers have been consistently impressing upon the US against any security assistance to Pakistan unless it stops supporting non-state actors and terrorist groups against its neighbouring countries.

While Turkey is exploring the possibility of engines from other suppliers in Poland and France, the American decision would delay in delivery of T129 ATAK helicopters to Pakistan.

The deal was for the delivery of 30 of these helicopters.

Procurement of such helicopters would have given more teeth to Pakistan's airpower as its current AH-1F Cobra gunships lack the capability to perform adequately over the higher altitudes of the Hindu Kush mountain range, separating Afghanistan and Pakistan, The EurAsian Times reported.

Early this week, the independent Congressional Research Service told lawmakers that security assistance to Pakistan would remain suspended pending "decisive and irreversible" action against terrorist groups.

"Pakistan is a haven for numerous Islamist extremist and terrorist groups, and successive Pakistani governments are widely believed to have tolerated and even supported some of these as proxies in Islamabad's historical conflicts with its neighbours," Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report on Pakistan.

At the direction of President Trump, the US suspended all its security assistance to Pakistan in January 2018.

Pakistan Prime Minister Khan will meet President Trump on July 22. It will be Khan's first high-level trip to the US since assuming power following the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's victory in the 2018 general elections.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Fri, July 19 2019. 20:50 IST