Turkey's on-going economic crisis has forced the country's armed forces to shelve 32 defence programmes worth around $19.5 billion.

The fall in value of the Turkish lira has already threatened spending and the government has been negotiating a loan from the International Monetary Fund.

The Turkish general staff says: "We have decided to postpone projects-and to re-evaluate them inline with economic developments."

The army is set to be the biggest loser with plans to acquire 145 Bell Helicopter Textron AH-1ZKing Cobras and 1,000 main battle tanks likely to be scaled back dramatically, while a purchase of eight Sikorsky S-80/CH-53 Stallion heavylift helicopters could be abandoned.

The air force's plans to buy up to eight Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft are likely to survive, although industry observers suggest the number could be cut to four.

Other plans included participation in the Airbus Military Company A400Mtactical transport (26 aircraft); navy and coast guard requirements for maritime patrol aircraft based on locally built EADS Casa CN235Ms; basic trainers for the air force and a follow-on order for locally assembled Lockheed Martin F-16s.

The government will need to balance the cuts while maintaining work levels in Tusas Aerospace Industries and other companies created to license-build equipment for the Turkish armed forces.

Turkey buys a significant volume of its military hardware from Israel. The Israeli aerospace industry is worried that the potential purchase of an intelligence satellite as well as a number of electronic warfare systems and weapons for the air force could be abandoned.

Turkey has also been long-viewed as a potential export customer for the Israel Aircraft Industries Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile.

Source: Flight International