PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took the Turkish attack helicopter T-129 for a test flight in Istanbul, Turkey. Image Credit: Courtesy: PID Pakistan

Islamabad: In a rare spectacle, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took the Turkish attack helicopter T-129 for a test flight in Istanbul. Abbasi is the first Pakistani prime minister to fly a military helicopter.

Abbasi, an aviation enthusiast, took the helicopter for a test flight from Istanbul Ataturk Airport on October 22. He was in the Turkish capital, Istanbul, for the ninth summit of D-8 developing nations.

After taking the flight of the military helicopter, PM Abbasi appreciated the Turkish aircraft and termed the T129 ATAK an “impressive and good machine”.

Abbasi also inspected the helicopter as he was briefed by the Turkish aviation officials about the specifications and technical parameters of the combat chopper.

Talking to Pakistani and Turkish media following the test-flight of T-129 helicopter, Abbasi said Turkey’s defence production industry was one of the best in the world.

The Pakistani premier lauded the Turkish aviation industry and Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for achievements in defence production.

When asked about Pakistan’s plan of buying T-129 helicopters, Abbasi said, “Our army is evaluating the helicopter, and we are negotiating the contract and terms.”

Pakistan and Turkey share strong defence relations and are collaborating in the defence production, PM Abbasi said.

The chief executive officer of Turkish Aerospace Industries, Temel Kotil, told Pakistani media that T-129 is a lightweight attack helicopter equipped with missiles and guns. The T129 is a twin-engined, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter designed and manufactured jointly by Turkish Aerospace Industries and Italy-based AgustaWestland to meet the requirements of Turkish Armed Forces.

The pictures of Pakistani prime minister in full gear and video of flying the helicopter became extremely popular on social media. Hundreds of Pakistanis shared the photos of PM Abbasi, appreciating his adventurous spirit.

“He is multi-talented, an electrical engineer by education and training, a businessman, a pilot, a politician and an adventurer. He is a role model to me” says Hamza Umair, 18, a young student.

On Twitter, some people even compared Abbasi to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is known as a man of many talents.

Sania Siddiqi shared pictures of Abbasi and Putin, both flying aircraft, on Twitter, saying: “I think our PM Shaheed Khaqan Abbasi is doing a Vladimir Putin.”

Earlier in September, during his visit to the newly-established Airpower Center of Excellence (ACE) at Mushaf airbase of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in Sargodha, the Pakistani premier flew with a seasoned pilot on an exercise training mission in an F-16 fighter aircraft, belonging to the No 9 Squadron.

Abbasi, who has a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from George Washington University in Washington DC, is an aviation expert who founded Pakistan’s private airline Airblue in 2003. Abbasi’s father, Khaqan Abbasi, was an air commodore in the Pakistan Air Force.