The TAI/AgustaWestland T-129 in flight (Source: Combat Aircraft Net)

The TAI/AgustaWestland T-129 in flight (Source: Combat Aircraft Net)

President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Turkey last week saw the Republic of Korea (ROK) angling for cooperation with Ankara in the development of attack helicopters and advanced fighter jets.

6 February 2012 / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL

Turkish President Abdullah Gül on Monday said his country is willing to cooperate with South Korea in manufacturing Turkey’s new attack helicopter. “We want to cooperate with South Korea on the Atak helicopters, which will be included in the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] inventory. In addition, Turkey is also willing to cooperate with South Korea in other areas such as aircraft manufacturing,” Gül said at a press conference with his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak after a meeting in Ankara.

Today’s Zaman reports that a declaration to establish strategic cooperation was signed by both ROK president Myung-bak and Turkish president Abdullah Gül. The agreement hints at cooperation with both Turkey’s Atak helicopters and South Korea’s KFX fighter aircraft development, though there is little set in stone as to how fruitful these declarations will become. The agreement also pledged increased cooperation in non-defense sectors, including trade, nuclear energy, and tourism.

Seoul is wasting little time in making good on the defense parts of the declaration, as KBS World Radio reports that The South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) will send a negotiation team back to Turkey from February 22nd to 25th in order to further discuss the matter.

Turkey hopes for a assistance in manufacturing TAI/AgustaWestland T-129 “Atak” helicopters, as well as potential selection in South Korea  AH-X heavy attack helicopter acquisition program. Turkey is also keen on establishing a “second channel” aircraft supplier other than the United States. Meanwhile, South Korea is searching for foreign partners to fund around 40% of the Korea Aerospace Industries KF-X Fighter Project and Turkey has continuously displayed a strong interest in becoming one of those partners.

South Korea continues on its hectic pace of defense industry movements for 2012. It’s going to be in interesting year.

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Craig was born & raised in the United States, having recently returned there after over five years in Asia. He is currently pursuing further education in the realms of East Asian Studies and Politics. Craig is an avid fan of the political, economic, and military machinations occurring throughout the Asian continent and how those turning gears affect the rest of the world. He's currently covering both North and South Korea for Asia Security Watch, enjoying shedding light on to this far-too-often ignored slice of Asia.
Craig Scanlan has 82 post(s) on Asia Security Watch