Pakistan and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) have signed a contract to bring home 30 of T129 ATAK multirole attack helicopters.
The helicopters will be in service of the Pakistan Aviation Corps (PAAC). The helicopters will arrive with a package consisting of ammunition, spare parts, training and other things.
The total contract value for these 30 helicopters is said to be around $1.5 billion which is the biggest Turkey’s defense sale in recent decades.
Why is PAK Army acquiring these helicopters
The T129 ATAK multirole attack helicopters are being bought with the purpose of replacing the old and worn out fleet of Pakistan’s AH-1F Cobra helicopter gunships.
These helicopters were acquired from the U.S back in 1984-1986 era. By 2013, Pakistan had 35 of these helicopters in use but the cost of maintaining these old helicopters has been very difficult.
Pakistan tried to acquire the AH-1z Viper or AH-64 Apache from the U.S to replace these copters but their request was refused, causing Pakistan to look for other foreign attack helicopters.
Pakistan since then has tried out the Chinese CAIC Z-10, the Russian Mi-35 Hind, and the Turkish T129.
After extensive trials of the T129 helicopters by PAAC since 2016, Pakistan finally decided to order 30 of these from Turkey.
Turkish T129 ATAK vs. AH-1F Cobra
The two helicopters are years apart from each other. Let’s have a detailed look at each:
The AH-1F incorporates all Step 1 and 2 upgrades to the AH-1S. It also featured Step 3 upgrades: a head-up display, a laser rangefinder, an infrared jammer mounted above the engine exhaust, and an infrared suppressing engine exhaust system, and the M143 Air Data Subsystem (ADS).
The AH-1F is also referred to as the “Modernized AH-1S”, “AH-1S Modernized Cobra”, or “AH-1S(MC)” prior to 1988.
Pakistan had received 20 AH-1S gunships by the U.S in 1984 to 1986. These were later upgraded with NITE thermal ranging package.
PAK army first used these helicopters in Somalia during the United Nations Operation in Somalia II in 1994. Later they were used in Sierra Leone.
The T219 is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter. Its design is based on the A129 Mangusta platform.
The T219 has been developed by the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) with the cooperation of AgustaWestland. The helicopter was designed for advanced attack and reconnaissance in hot and high environments and rough geography in both day and night situations.
The T129 carries a 20mm Gatling-style cannon in a nose turret. It can also carry a combination of 70 mm rocket pods, gun pods, stinger air-air missile pods on its stub-wing pylons.