Turkey near to decision on attack helicopter project
The selection of a final bidder in the Turkish Army's $4 billion attack helicopter project will be made at the end of June.The final decision will be made by the Defence Industries Undersecretariat (SSM) Executive Committee composed of Prime Minister Bьlent Eзevit, Chief of Staff Gen Hьseyin Kivrikoglu and Minister of National Defence Sabahattin Cakmakoglu.The announcement was made by Celal Gьrkan, the retired general responsible for the attack helicopter project within the SSM, at a press conference by SSM officials and senior generals on 27 March breaking their silence over local media criticism of both the project and increased defence spending. Boeing's AH-64D Apache Longbow and the Franco-German Eurocopter Tiger have been eliminated from the attack helicopter project, leaving Bell Helicopter-Textron's AH-1Z King Cobra, Agusta's A129-I and Kamov's Ka-50/52 in a joint bid with Israel Aircraft Industries (Jane's Defence Weekly 15 March).
Gьrkan said that the SSM had eliminated the AH-64D and the Tiger, believed to be the two most expensive contenders, after a detailed analysis of technical performance and cost effectiveness. The Turkish press has featured headline stories claiming that French President Jacques Chirac had complained to the Turkish Ambassador to France Sцnmez Kцksal about the elimination of Tiger. The remaining companies are expected to soon submit their third Best and Final Offers. Gьrkan said that once a bidder is selected in late June, contract negotiations will last about three months. Turkey is seeking access to computer software codes and rights to third country sales.
Under the first phase, estimated to be worth $2.5 billion, two prototypes and 48 production standard helicopters will be coproduced by the winning bidder and Turkish companies. Delivery of the first was originally scheduled for November 2002 but this has now slipped to mid-2003.The remaining 90 helicopters will be produced in two batches of 50 and 45 each, with the final delivery set for 2011. Gьrkan said that separate tenders would not be opened for the second and third batch. Instead, SSM has asked the bidders to present costs for the total production run in order to lower the cost of the first 50.Questioned about the link between international concerns about Turkey's human rights record and the project, Gьrkan said that all the shortlisted companies have provided Ankara with letters stating that there would not be any problems obtaining export licences for their helicopter.
On the broader question of defence modernisation, Professor Dursun Ali Ercan, SSM Undersecretary, said that the percentage of GNP which Ankara spends on defence is comparable with many of Turkey's neighbours. "It is true that Turkey is faced with a problem of strengthening its economy. But the regional atmosphere dictates that Turkey ensure its security," said Ercan. Officials also took advantage of the press conference to confirm that plans for the transition to an all-professional army, which had been delayed by the need to deploy considerable forces against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), have been resumed.
©Jane's Information Group 2000
Posted: 5 April 2000
Source: Jane's Defence Weekly
Also Online: Jane's Defence Weekly