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Dubai Airshow: Why TAI boss is a man on a mission

Posted 12 November 2017 · Add Comment

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) president and CEO, Dr Temel Kotil, is a man on a mission at the show. Alan Warnes discovers why.

Dr Temel Kotil, the man who headed Turkish Airlines for 11 years before becoming TAI chief in October 2016, has a masterplan for his organisation.

Not only does he want to increase TAI’s turnover this year, from $1.6 billion towards $3billion, he also wants to grow the company to $10 billion inside 10 years, which means a 25% annual average increase.

That might well explain why TAI has such a big presence at this year’s show.

Kotil’s immediate priority is to commercialise all the main projects that have been designed and developed over the past 10 years. Those include the T129 advanced attack and tactical reconnaissance (ATAK) helicopter, the Hurkus turboprop trainer/close air support aircraft, the Anka unmanned aerial system (UAS), and the six-ton T625 helicopter.

The five-ton T129 ATAK is making its debut at the show. Export sales have been disappointing and Kotil will be aiming to boost the helicopter’s fortunes. There have been serious discussions with Pakistan and Bahrain but nothing has materialised. Now the government-backed company is aiming to show off the T129 to a general Middle East audience.

Domestically, the T129 is big business, with Turkey’s aerospace industry developing an indigenous mission computer, avionics, weapons systems, self-protection suites and helmet-mounting cueing system. The Turkish Army is purchasing 59 T129s, with 24 delivered to date. 

While the nine early development helicopters (EDHs) have a 20mm cannon in the nose turret and are armed with unguided rockets, the T129B will be more sophisticated. It has the capability to carry eight UMTAS anti-tank guided missiles, 19 Roketsan CIRIT laser-guided 2.75in missiles, eight Stinger air-to-air missiles, two 12.7mm gun pods and two 294kg auxiliary fuel tanks on its stub wing pylons.

Positioned above the nose cannon is an Aselsan ASELFLIR-300T advanced targeting system turret, which houses a thermal camera, laser range finder/designator, laser spot tracker, colour TV camera, and colour spotter camera with a multiple target tracking capability. They can be monitored by the pilot’s Aselsan helmet integrated cueing system (HICS).  

In early October, the Turkish Undersecretariat of Defence Industries (SSM) formally accepted the Meteksan Savunma MİLDAR millimetre wave radar, which has been under development since 2013. Meteksan and TAI began testing the MİLDAR in December 2016. Serial production is expected to begin in 2018 or 2019 on the 20 Phase 2 T129Bs.

TAI is also promoting its Hurkus-C light attack armed reconnaissance aircraft. Unveiled in February and shown publicly for the first time at IDEF 17 in Istanbul during May, TAI is now keen to win export orders.

The Turkish Army has a requirement for 12 plus 12 options, and the gendarmerie six plus six options. Both customers’ helicopters will be configured with the same weapons, the 2.75in CIRIT LGMs and the Laser-UMTAS, ensuring commonality with the T129 ATAK.

Meanwhile, an export deal for Turkey’s first indigenous unmanned aerial system, Anka, seems to be a long way off.

Since development started in 2010 there have been three versions. The Anka-A was used to mature the ground surveillance and maritime surveillance radar systems before the programme was split into two. 

The lighter Anka B, with an on-board Aselsan maritime surveillance and ground station radio relay, has attracted interest from the Turkish Navy, using the Aselsan full HD communications, aperture and targeting system (CATS).

Integration work has been completed on the CATS, which will also appear on the Anka S variant, equipped with a foreign SATCOM.  

The Turkish Air Force has ordered 10 Anka S, while contracts for 12 Anka Bs are also believed to have been signed, split between the Polis and Turkish Land Forces, which is also interested in the Anka S.

 

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