Turkey has initiated talks with the USA following its recent request to purchase 10 Boeing CH-47F Chinook transport helicopters for around $500 million, according to the nation's undersecretariat for defence industries (SSM).

If approved, Ankara's requested foreign military sales deal would at last conclude an army heavylift helicopter search that was launched in the mid-1990s, but twice cancelled due to high programme costs. Other types considered for the delayed requirement had included the Mil Mi-26T and Sikorsky CH-53. The SSM says it does not expect to encounter major problems in closing the deal this time, but the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has not yet informed Congress of the possible sale.

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Military sources in Turkey say the new-build transport helicopters are urgently needed to provide support during Ankara's ongoing offensive against PKK Kurdish rebels in south-east Turkey, with some strike missions also having recently been performed by the Turkish military inside northern Iraq. The army will also take delivery of the first of at least 51 AgustaWestland T129 attack helicopters in 2012, under a project headed by Turkish Aerospace Industries.

Source: Flight International