Tuesday, May 17, 2011

US Clears Sale of Saudi C-130Es to Turkey

The United States has approved the sale to Turkey by Saudi Arabia of six U.S.-made C-130E military cargo planes, senior Turkish and U.S. officials said late Monday. Turkey struck a deal last summer with Saudi Arabia to purchase the six older cargo planes.

The U.S. approval in late April comes at a time when two transport aircraft programs Turkey is involved in are faltering or facing major delays.

One procurement official told the Hürriyet Daily News that the planes were being purchased at a very reasonable price, but declined to specify a figure. An industry source suggested the unit price was less than $10 million.

The permission of the United States, the original manufacturer of the planes, was needed. “We weren’t expecting any major problems on this, and everything worked out well. We’re happy about this,” the procurement official said.

The planes are expected to arrive in Turkey later this year. The Turkish Air Force already is flying the older C-130B and C-130E models of the C-130 family, acquired from the United States decades ago.

As a member of the pan-European Airbus A400 consortium, Turkey has been planning to buy 10 A400M cargo planes, but the program has been facing major delays.

On the local C-130 upgrade front, Turkey’s efforts to achieve the avionic modernization of the Air Force’s 13 planes also have faced delays. Currently, the Turkish Air Force also has 19 older European-made C-160s, which originally were planned to eventually be replaced by the A400.

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