The Turkish defence procurement agency SSM has invited Kamov and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) to further talks on the possible purchase of Ka-50-2 Erdogan attack helicopters. Turkey has been discussing with Bell Helicopter the purchase of the first 50 of a planned acquisition of 145 AH-1Z KingCobra attack machines since 2000 but has been unable to finalise terms on the deal.

The Ka-50-2 is a version of the single-seat Ka-50 with a tandem two-seat cockpit and Israeli avionics. Talks will begin in September and result from Turkish "disappointment" over the AH-1Z negotiations, says an industry source.

However, Bell is optimistic the deal will be concluded. "While Bell, Tusas Aerospace Industries [TAI] and SSM have agreed in principle on most terms and conditions, pricing negotiations remain open and are expected to resume shortly," it says.

AH-1Z talks have struggled due to a disagreement on unit price and the helicopter's configuration. Sources say Turkey's refusal to allow access to Iraq in the war have hampered the discussions.

Sources in Israel do not share Kamov's optimism, however. "This is an ongoing issue and we cannot be sure what the outcome will be," says an Israeli defence ministry source. Israeli scepticism is understandable as Kamov and IAI have been called back to the negotiations by SSM once, in September 2002.

Bell is this week holding a conference with TAI in Fort Worth, Texas, attended by US subcontractors wishing to participate in the Turkish attack helicopter programme.

Source: Flight International