Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sikorsky Sweetens Deal in Turk Chopper Contest

ANKARA - U.S. helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft, in competition with an Italian rival for a Turkish program to jointly produce 109 utility helicopters worth about $4 billion, offered Ankara fresh benefits to strengthen its bid.
Steve Estill, vice president for strategic cooperation at the Sikorsky president's office, told Defense News his company would guarantee that Turkey would do repair and maintenance work worth $1 billion for the S-70i Black Hawk International helicopters belonging to third countries.
"Turkey will do maintenance, repair, overhaul work for the platforms of countries that have S-70i Black Hawk International helicopters. We guarantee this," Estill said. "Altogether, this will be worth $1 billion for Turkey's defense industry over the next 20 years."
Sikorsky's rival, the Italian AgustaWestland, is proposing the TUHP 149, a Turkish version of its A149, a newly developed utility helicopter, in the Turkish competition.
A much-expected decision on the utility helicopter was delayed at the last meeting, in mid-December, of the Defense Industry Executive Committee, Turkey's top decision-making body for defense procurement. Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul told reporters at the time that Sikorsky's and AgustaWestland's offers were both insufficient. He said the main point of disagreement was the price.
Turkey's decision now is expected to be announced in March at the next meeting of the committee, whose members include Gonul; Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan; Gen. Isik Kosaner, chief of the Turkish General Staff; and procurement chief Murad Bayar.
In recent months, both Sikorsky Aircraft and AgustaWestland have announced a series of inducements on the utility helicopter program. The competition is for a first batch of 109 utility helicopters, mostly for the military and security forces. But that number is expected to increase to about 300 in later years.

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