Turkey has signed a government-to-government deal with the United States to buy six Boeing-made CH-47 heavy-lift military transport helicopters, the first such weapons in its inventory, a senior procurement official said over the weekend.
The deal is worth up to $400 million, the official said.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, or DSCA, the Pentagon’s body coordinating weapons sales, notified the U.S. Congress of a potential sale of a total of 14 CH-47F heavy-lift helicopters for $1.2 billion in December 2009. Congress gave permission for the sale later that month.
Because of financial constraints, however, the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry, or SSM, Turkey’s procurement agency, later wanted to buy only six CH-47Fs, five for the Army and one for the Special Forces Command, leaving a decision on the remaining eight platforms for the future. Contract negotiations between the SSM, the U.S. government and Boeing were launched last year.
“The contract was signed in late July,” the procurement official told the Hürriyet Daily News. “After the helicopters begin to arrive, we plan to make some modifications to them according to our needs.”
The six CH-47F Chinooks will be the first heavy-lift helicopters in the Turkish Army’s inventory. Their deliveries are expected to begin in 2013 and end in 2014.
“These helicopters have incredible capabilities. Three or four of them can transport a company-sized unit and its equipment over long distances in only a few hours,” the procurement official said. The maximum speed of the CH-47F is around 312 kilometers per hour.
Developed in the late 1960s, the Chinooks have been exported to many countries, including Australia, Britain, Canada, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
The Chinook has been successfully operated in combat conditions in several wars and armed conflicts.
Heavy-lift military transport helicopters are much larger versions of utility helicopters. The Chinook is a twin-engine, twin-rotor helicopter. Its counter-rotating rotors eliminate the need for an anti-torque vertical rotor, allowing all power to be used for lift and thrust.
The CH-47F is the upgraded version of the CH-47D, and is the latest model in this helicopter family. It can carry up to 60 troops and personnel.
A NATO CH-47 Chinook was shot down by Taliban forces southwest of the Afghan capital, Kabul, in early August, killing 30 U.S. troops, including 23 Navy SEALs, and eight Afghans.
“These are not unsafe devices. On the contrary, these helicopters had mission flights of thousands of hours in Afghanistan this year alone, and this was the first such incident,” the procurement official said.
Turkey usually manufactures its defense equipment itself, or jointly produces it with foreign partners. But since the number of the heavy-lift helicopters was rather small, the SSM ruled in favor of direct procurement from a single source, in this case, Boeing. The heavy-lift helicopter program is expected to be among the last of Turkey’s direct foreign procurement projects.
Read More AT: