Turkey is set to provide Pakistan with 34 T-37 aircraft and their spare parts for no cost in what has been termed a landmark deal signed between the two countries in Ankara on Wednesday.
Pakistan had expressed its desire of acquiring the aircraft from Turkey a few months back and now, Istanbul has moved quickly to provide 34 T-37, a jet trainer and light attack aircraft to its ally without any cost according to a statement issued by Pakistan’s defense ministry.
The agreement was reached during the meeting of Pakistan-Turkey High Level Military Dialogue Group (HLMDG) which concluded in Ankara on Wednesday.
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Director General Defense Procurement, Maj. Gen. Naveed Ahmed and Chief of Logistics Turkey, Maj. Gen. Serdar Gulbas signed the agreement while Secretary Defense Lt. Gen. (Retd) Muhammad Alam Khattak and Deputy Chief of Turkish General Staff, Gen. Yasar Guler signed the Joint Communiqué.
Pakistan’s secretary defense highlighted the country’s defense capability and military capacity and requirements in light of the current global perspective during the visit. Pakistan has already signed numerous deals with the likes of China, Russia and US this year and in a bid to further shore up its defensive capabilities, has now opted to agree to a deal with Turkey that might not be as flashy as the previous deals, is a necessary one.
Reminding journalists of the brotherly relations Pakistan and Turkey have enjoyed since 1947, the secretary said, “Pakistan desires to further translate these relations into strategic cooperation, signifying strategic importance of our relations”.
During the visit, the two countries also agreed to increase cooperation at regional and multinational forums such as UN, OIC, ECO and D-8.
Khattak also said that HLMDG has done considerable work this year to review progress achieved on decisions that were taken in the last HLMDG meeting. This year’s meeting also discussed topics pertaining to politico-military matters and defense industry cooperation.
Khattak is hopeful that in the coming years, this cooperation will further expand to defense industries from strategic to joint venture levels – something that Islamabad has been working on with all the major stakeholders in the region.
Turkey using T-37 to increase cooperation with Islamabad
This agreement comes at a time when Turkey is looking out for Pakistan’s increased security and defense cooperation to even the playing field in a bid to counter the emerging threat that is being posed by the Islamic State terrorist group as well as the threat Turkey is facing from Kurdish rebels.
An old technology with limited functionality
However, one has to question about the whole merit of such a deal considering the fact that the aircraft Pakistan is acquiring is an old piece of technology that was last produced in 1975. Manufactured by Cessena, the aircraft are currently serving the needs of the Turkish Air Force, Royal Moroccan Air Force and the Colombian Air Force.
Moreover, the T-37 is not your average trainer plane that would be able to travel for long distances. Although it is a really great option to use for training purposes, the aircraft will not withstand the requirements of modern aerial combat.
Also, the fact that these aircraft are more than 50 years old, means that the Pakistan Air Force will be spending quite a lot of time in maintaining these old machines which means that the Air Force will be paying a cost for the maintenance of an aviation technology that has become obsolete.