Posts wrongly claim that Pakistan cancelled helicopter deal with Turkey

The ISPR has clarified that the deal has not been ruled out

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Claim: Pakistan has cancelled a deal with Turkey to acquire 30 T129 ATAK helicopters.

Fact: Pakistan has not cancelled the helicopter deal with Turkey.

Fact or Fiction?

On 5 January 2022, Facebook page The Bangladesh Defence Analyst made the following claim in a post:

DG ISPR has confirmed that Pakistan Army Aviation is going to buy Z-10ME leaving the T-129 deal behind.”

Various claims regarding the cancellation of the helicopter deal started circulating on social media following DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar’s press briefing on 5 January 2022.

Responding to a journalist’s question about the Turkish deal, DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar can be heard saying between 54:04 and 54:32:

“As far as aviation fleet is concerned, as I said depending on our requirements and the threat across, we keep upgrading our fleets. Similarly, aviation is also being upgraded depending on the resources available. As far as the Turkish deal is concerned, we have moved on. You have mentioned the Chinese negotiations, yes hopefully hopefully we will be getting some gunships from there.”

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing, gave a statement to Anadolu Agency (AA) on 7 January 2022, clarifying:

“While answering a question related to Pakistan’s deal with Turkey for acquiring T-129 ATAK helicopters, the statement made by DG ISPR was misconstrued on some digital media platforms. It is clarified that Pakistan has never ruled out an acquisition of military helicopters from Turkey. All speculations in this regard are baseless.”

Soch Fact Check got in touch with the Regional Chief Correspondent of AA for Asia-Pacific, Islamuddin Sajid who confirmed that he acquired the aforementioned statement after speaking with the ISPR.

The $1.5 billion deal with Turkey for the purchase of 30 Turkish-made T129 ATAK helicopters was agreed in July 2018. Pakistan has previously extended the execution of the deal twice, first in January 2020 and later in March 2021, according to an article published 15 March 2021 by a US defence publication, Defense News.

Virality

According to a CrowdTangle analysis, a number of  Facebook groups, including Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force Lovers🇵🇰❤, also shared the post on 5 January 2022, claiming that Pakistan has cancelled the purchase of T129 ATAK helicopters from Turkey.

On the same day, several websites, including The Defender, AviaciOnline, and scramble.nl, published reports with the claim as well.

The news was then picked up by other Facebook pages, including  Global Village Space, RBN-BNL News, The Defenstar, among others, as well as websites such as Janes, Ahval News, and TurDef.

Soch Fact Check ran an analysis using the following search terms:

  • Pakistan helicopter deal Turkey
  • Pakistan Turkey T-129 ATAK
  • Pakistan to acquire gunships from China

Over the last 30 days, the three search terms above have garnered approximately 33,125 interactions across 81 posts, 1332 interactions across 29 posts, and 684 interactions across six posts, respectively.

The analysis further revealed that Facebook page The Bangladesh Defence Analyst’s post, which included the first of the search terms listed above, received 517 likes, 31 comments and 13 shares.

Meanwhile, Global Village Space’s post published 6 January 2022 garnered 406 likes, 22 comments and 15 shares. It is also performing 11 times better than other similar posts.

A video posted by RBN-BNL News on Facebook also gained significant traction garnering 10,900 views, at the time of reporting.

Conclusion: Pakistan has not cancelled the helicopter deal with Turkey; the DG ISPR’s statement in this regard has been misconstrued.

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