Turkey has acted to address its urgent need for more attack helicopters and is looking at a possible interim deal to bridge the gap until the availability of its delayed Airbus Military A400M transports.
To fill the first requirement, Turkey's Undersecretary of Defence Industries (SSM) has decided to buy nine secondhand AgustaWestland A129s from the Italian army.
The Turkish army has an active fleet of 28 Bell AH-1s in the P, S and W variants, as listed by Flightglobal's HeliCAS database. It mainly uses the aircraft in the south-east of Turkey against PKK militants, but urgently needs to replace the type.
Acquiring the ex-Italian A129s, which will be upgraded before they enter service, will not affect Ankara's plans to jointly produce the T129. The Turkish Aerospace Industries-led programme will deliver 50 new attack helicopters, with Ankara holding an option for another 41.
Separately, a decision on Turkey's tri-service utility helicopter requirement could slip until November, sources say. AgustaWestland and Sikorsky are pursuing the deal, which could now be for 210 aircraft, including options.
Responding to the roughly three-year delivery delay to its A400Ms, the SSM has expressed interest in acquiring six of the Royal Saudi Air Force's Lockheed Martin C-130Es.
TAI is already running the "Erciyes" project to upgrade Turkey's 13 C-130B/Es with new avionics equipment. Any aircraft acquired from Saudi Arabia would also undergo modernisation.
The Turkish air force has begun the process to retire its Dassault-Breguet C160 Transalls, which will be replaced by 10 A400Ms.
Separately, the SSM has approached manufacturers including Cessna, Cirrus, Diamond and Grob about a requirement to replace the air force's Cessna T-41 primary trainers.
Turkey seeks used attack helicopters, transports