24 September 2012 / TODAY'S ZAMAN, ANKARA
Three AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters were delivered to Turkey from the United States on Sunday, after lengthy negotiations over the sale of the helicopters that Ankara desperately needs to counter terrorist attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the country's Southeast.
After a few years' delay in the sale, three AH-1W helicopters were delivered by C-5 military transport to Akıncılar airbase in Ankara on Sunday, sources from the Defense Ministry told Today's Zaman. With the sale, the Turkish Air Forces has finally achieved success in its bid to modernize the current fleet of attack helicopters.
Military experts believe that the acquisition of additional sophisticated aircraft will give a boost to the operational capability of the Turkish military in its long fight against the terrorist PKK. The AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter has very sophisticated weaponry systems. It can be loaded with TOW missiles, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles and others.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) currently has six operational Super Cobra helicopters that serve the military in fighting terrorism. The military had purchased 10 Super Cobra helicopters from the US, its close military ally, in the 1990s. Some of the helicopters need technological modernization, while some of them are no longer in service. These attack helicopters have a delivery system for 12 rockets and can fly for hours. The topographic features of Turkey's Southeast require a greater number of capable helicopters. The Super Cobra has proven its capabilities in comparison to other helicopters in past TSK operations.
Nearly four years ago, Turkey requested 12 attack helicopters from the US. However, the US Congress did not approve the sale until last November, citing as its reason the US military's shortage of such aircraft. Last November, Congress approved the sale of only three of the 12 requested AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters to Turkey.
The Obama administration formally notified the US Congress on Oct. 28 of an unusual proposal to sell three AH-1W Super Cobra twin-engine attack helicopters to Turkey from the US Marine Corps inventory. Under the administration's plan, the Marines would get two new, late-model Textron Inc Bell AH-1Z Super Cobras in exchange for the three, twin-engine AH-1W aircraft that would be transferred to Ankara, a congressional official told Reuters last year. Such sales from the US military's current inventory are extremely rare, Reuters noted.