Daily Israel Report

Obama Administration Wants to Give Turkey SuperCobras

An unorthodox deal sees Washington providing Ankara with in-service US Marine Corps attack helicopters to aid in its war with the PKK.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 10/28/2011, 1:51 PM

AH-1W SuperCobra
AH-1W SuperCobra
AH-1W SuperCobra

The Obama administration wants to provide two currently in-service US Marine Corps attack helicopters, Reuters reported Friday.

The highly unorthodox move is being considered as Ankara seeks to exact revenge for a major attack by Kurdish separatists.

Turkey has been seeking AH-1 SuperCobra helicopters to replace those lost fighting separatist rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) for some time.

Congressional officials say the Marines would get two new Textron Inc Bell AH-1Z SuperCobras to replace thee in-service AH-1W aircraft to be provided to Ankara.

The AH-1W sold previously $10 million. Turkey bought 10 of them in the 1990s. The larger, twin-engine AH-IZ may sell for about $30 million, according to industry sources.

But the administration’s plan has been held up by questions from lawmakers about the row between Turkey, which has shifted its sympathies towards Syria and Iran, and key-US ally Israel.

Under the US Arms Export Control Act the Congress must be notified at least 15 days prior to proceeding with any significant arms transfer to a NATO partner, which includes Turkey.

Turkey vowed "great revenge" and launched air and ground assaults on Kurdish guerillas in northern Iraq this week, after 24 Turkish troops were killed by the PKK on Oct. 19.

The PKK, waging 27-year insurgency from Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, is designated a terrorist group by the United States.

The deal, which comes on the heels of Washington’s decision to authorize sale of the F-16 air superiority fighter to Cairo, may raise eyebrows in Jerusalem. While the number to be provided under the presently proposed deal is negligible, it is seen by many as opening the door to future acquisitions of the SuperCobra by Ankara.

The United States has long vowed, as a part of its oft stated commitment to Israeli security, to ensure the Jewish state maintains a qualitative advantage in arms over hostile states in the region.