Turkey and Pakistan signed a deal today for the sale of 30 T129 ATAK helicopters estimated to be worth around $1.5 billion.

"Contract negotiations on T129 ATAK helicopters between Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and the Pakistani Ministry of Defence Production were finalised," the Turkish Defence Industries Under Secretariat said in a statement quoted by Anadolu Agency.

This is the biggest single defence export for the Turkish defense industry, the statement said without specifying the value of the contract. However, various estimates have the placed the value at US$1.5 billion.

Pakistan began negotiations with Turkey after its plans to buy Apache attack helicopters from the United States failed.

In addition to the helicopters, TAI will provide logistics, spare parts, training, and ammunition services.

The T129 ATAK Multirole Combat Helicopter, developed by TAI, has been optimized for specific hot and high performance requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces, a feature that may have led to its selection by the Pakistani armed forces.

Designed in two types with close air support and multi-task mission features, T129 ATAK can undertake high-altitude missions with heavy artillery.

Equipped with rockets for close air support and electronic warfare equipment, the ATAK uses Turkish-made “Mızrak” anti-tank missiles and laser-guided missile system called “Cirit.”