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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Turkey back to square one in attack helicopter plan

Ankara preparing to scrap bidding

A decade after Turkey formally launched a competition to buy scores of attack helicopters, the delivery date for the gunships, if it ever comes, still remains many years away. Ankara is preparing to scrap the second international contest for the program.

Officially, there are two short-listed bidders: Italy's AgustaWestland, maker of the A-129 Mangusta International, and South African Denel Aviation, maker of the Rooivalk. Officially, one of them should win the $1.5 billion contract for an initial batch of 30 platforms. In reality, both contenders are far from victory. The reason? The military doesn't like their solutions.

Under pressure from the end-user, procurement authorities will likely cancel the existing competition, defense officials admit. None of the short-listed solutions fully satisfies the end-user, said one official. We may renew the competition, or go for an off-the-shelf purchase. That's unknown for the moment.

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