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    WILL TURKEY GET RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS?

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    BELGRADE, May 20, (RIA Novosti) - Turkey has decided not to hold a tender for the purchase of 145 helicopter gunships, other combat hardware and weapons; that tender involved Bell-Textron of the United States and Russia's Kamov helicopter company.

    The executive committee of the Turkish Defense Ministry also renounced a tender for the purchase of 1,000 sophisticated main battle tanks worth $5 billion, as well as remotely piloted reconnaissance planes costing $1 billion, TANJUG news agency reported May 19.

    Turkey first announced this tender in 1997, eventually postponing the final decision several times. Ankara and Bell-Textron began to negotiate a $4.5-billion deal in 2000, what with Russia's Kamov company joining the talks in 2002. The Turkish side kept demanding that local companies help assemble helicopters; meanwhile analysts were inclined to think this would raise production costs a great deal.

    The Anadolu agency, which is the Turkish republic's official wire service, claims that the tender was renounced in order to ensure the sustained operation of local enterprises; quite possibly, this tender might be launched some time again in the future.

    Turkish defense appropriations make up for 10 percent of its entire state budget.

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