Turkish made helicopters deployed

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Two Turkish-made T129 attack helicopters were deployed at a southeastern military base in Turkey to support anti-terror operations against Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy. This, according to a statement by the Turkish General Staff delivered at their headquarters.

The T129 choppers are the first locally made platforms under license from the renowned Italian-British helicopters developer and manufacturer Agusta Westland. The local producer is Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). In addition to the Turkish Army, TAI hopes to sell the T129 to foreign markets.

According to Defense News, the attack and reconnaissance helicopters are based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta, designed for “hot and high environments”. It has also been disclosed that they are outfitted with an arsenal of Hellfire missiles and guided rockets.

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The statement from the Turkish General Staff said the attack helicopters, now based in Siirt, southeastern Turkey, also will operate in neighboring provinces of Sirnak, Hakkari and Van.

The deployments of the T129s come at a time when the Turkish government is in fragile peace talks with the Kurdish rebels. The conflict has taken more than 40,000 lives since the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party launched a campaign for an independent Kurdish homeland back in 1984.

The campaign was rekindled in recent years by the emergence of ISIS, the collapse of the Iraqi and Syrian central regimes and rise of a largely independent Kurdish entity in the north of Iraq. It should be noted that Turkey, a NATO member, is under pressure to assist the anti-ISIS coalition forces operating in the region – but is yet to bow to international pressure.