Boeing believes it is ‘very close’ to settling on an offset package with Turkey for the purchase of six CH-47F Chinook helicopters for the Turkish Land Forces Command.
Speaking to Shephard at the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul on 11 May, Greg Pepin, Boeing’s vice president for the country, said Turkey had issued a letter of request to the US government as part of the foreign military sales (FMS) process and the company was finalising the extent of Turkish industry involvement with the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry.
‘We are in discussions right now and we are close to finalising the final items. Once we have come to an agreement the Turkish government will start the down payment process,’ Pepin said.
While the original 2009 FMS notification by the US Defense Security Co-operation Agency had stated that the Turkish government had requested to buy 14 CH-47F Chinook helicopters, the order has since been downscaled to six airframes.
In terms of the offset package, Pepin said there were a lot of technical issues the company was currently working through and the percentage that would be undertaken within Turkey was still to be determined.
‘We have to work through those technical issues. But having said that, Turkish industry is extremely good: there are many companies that are capable of working with complex technologies, and that’s in the commercial as well as the military world.’
Once Boeing is on contract for the aircraft, Turkish CH-47Fs will start joining the company’s Chinook production line around 36 months later.
When the deal was originally touted there was speculation that a number of Turkish-specific requirements, including the installation of equipment for special forces’ missions, may be incorporated into the agreement, with the aircraft remodelled in Turkey.
However, with the order shrinking to six aircraft, the Turkish Chinooks will now more closely resemble US Army CH-47Fs – although this does not preclude the aircraft being fitted with a number of Turkish-produced systems, such as communications, navigation and electro-optic imagery systems, on the Boeing production line as government-furnished equipment.
Given the popularity of the Chinook in recent years, more of a challenge for Boeing may be finding available slots on its Philadelphia production line. The company recently reconfigured the facility there in order to raise the number of airframes coming off the line from three to six a month.
Istanbul – Tony Skinner, Shepherd