Turkey negotiating helicoptor deal with Russian-Israeli company
In what is considered a surprise move, Turkey has decided to re-launch talks with a Russian-Israeli consortium composed of Kamov and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), seeking to explore the possibility of co-producing 50 Kamov Ka-50-2 helicopters.
The decision followed two years of negotiations with American firm Bell-Textron that reached a deadlock over what Ankara considers an “exorbitant price” of four billion dollars for 145 third-generation attack helicopters.
The decision made a major impact in international defense circles. It was reported that since July 8, Turkish officials held at least three secret discussion rounds with a delegation of three Israelis and four Russians.
Bell-Textron officials, whose company produces King Cobra helicopters, told The Jerusalem Post that they recently became aware of the discreet discussions between the Russian-Israeli partnership and Turkish officials, although they have not yet been officially informed of the move by their Turkish counterparts. "That's why we are still continuing negotiations with Turkey at the technical level," the official added.
In the meantime, Turkish sources have confirm the reports. "Yes, we asked the Kamov-Israeli consortium for its updated prices after we faced serious difficulties in setting an optimum price with the American firm."
The official added that although two years ago Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit had given Bell-Textron priority to the deal, Ankara retained the option of purchasing Kamov-IAI's Ka-50-2, if talks with the US firm failed.
The Ka-50-2 is a highly capable combat helicopter, combining a Russian-designed airframe with advanced Israeli-made electronics. Nicknamed “Black Shark”, the helicopter is heavily armed, and can attack both ground and air targets. It is also armored to withstand direct hits by anti-aircraft fire, and features very high maneuverability due to the unique co-axial rotors, a distinctive feature of Kamov designs.
The Russian-Israeli offering is expected to price at $2.25 billion for the first fifty helicopters sold to Turkey. Turkey stated that its current negotiations concern only the first 50 of the total 145 attack helicopters it requires.
Until Turkey’s latest surprise move, it was believed that the Russian-Israeli partnership had virtually no chance of wining the Turkish tender. In addition, it was rumored that the Kamov-IAI option was brought into play by Turkey only as a means of pressuring Washington. (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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