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Turkey Plans New Attack Helicopter

Turkish Aerospace is building a new six tonne attack helicopter T629, which will reside between the T129 ATAK and the recently announced 10-tonne multi-role heavy combat helicopter, the company’s CEO Prof. Dr. Temel Kotil reveals to Daily News.

“The designs have been finalised and we plan to carry out the first flight of this new helicopter in about a year,” Prof Kotil says on the sidelines of the ongoing ADEX 2019. The announcement to build the T629 helicopter comes amid TAI’s decision to build a 10-tonne Multi-Role Heavy Combat Helicopter ATAK-2, which TAI claims will have a weapons payload that is as much as the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. Technical specifications of the new T629 was not immediately available.

But the Heavy Class Attack Helicopter Project ATAK-2, which was launched early this year, aims to design and produce an effective and advanced attack helicopter with high maneuverability and performance that is capable of carrying a large useful load, resistant to challenging environmental factors and equipped with state-of-the-art technology target tracking and imaging, electronic warfare, navigation, communications and weapon systems.

The project also aims to maximize the use of domestic systems to ensure supply security and export freedom. “We have chosen not to go ahead with design partners as we now have enough technical and design skills to complete our programmes,” Prof Kotil says.

The Performance Evaluation Phase of the Heavy Class Attack Helicopter Project is expected to be completed this year and the first test flight of the helicopter is planned for 2024. The heavy helicopter to be developed will have a takeoff weight approximately twice that of the current ATAK helicopter and will be among the top-class attack helicopters.

The technical properties of the helicopter include two turbo shaft engines. The new helicopter will be able to accommodate over 1,200 kilograms of useful load and will have a tandem cockpit, capable of working in high altitude and high-temperature conditions and be resistant to environmental factors. With advanced electronic warfare and countermeasure systems, the helicopter will be equipped with high-caliber cannon, new generation 2.75-inch rockets, long-range anti-tank missiles with different guidance systems and air-to-air missile systems.

Referring to the new generation, twin engine, 6 tonne class GÖKBEY Multirole Helicopter, Prof Kotil says, “It is presently undertaking certification trials in Turkey. Deliveries are planned to start in 2021 and I believe the 12-seater will offer operators and customers best in class performance. It is very cost competitive as well.”

Turkish Fighter
Giving an update on the 5th generation Turkish Fighter programme, Prof. Kotil says, “We are working on the weapons systems and low observability features and the programme is going very well. The roll-out of the Turkish fighter is planned for 2023, with the first flight scheduled to take place in 2025. Customer deliveries are planned to commence in 2029.

“TF-X is going great now. We are working day and night and we have hired 1,000 engineers for our fighter programmes and are building massive intellectual capabilities. We are investing very heavily in new composite facilities and are building a 95.000 sq feet new facility. It will be ready in a year. We are sufficiently funded to complete the programme and that is not a worry,” he adds.

TAI’s Focus at ADEX2019
Besides various helicopter programmes, Turkish Aerospace is currently amid an expansion in its activities, with the development of a 5th generation fighter aircraft, trainer aircraft and more sophisticated unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

“We are taking part in Seoul ADEX 2019 for two reasons, one is to showcase our products here in South Korea and secondly to interact with companies that are attending the show, Prof Kotil says.

“Korea has a full-scale aerospace industry with all the sub systems required and we are looking to engage further with Korean companies, even though we are not participating in any tenders here. We are looking at greater cooperation with our customers,” he adds.

By Jay Menon & Atul Chandra

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