Friday, October 2, 2009

Turkey's First Attack Helicopter T129 Makes Test Flight





Turkey's first national attack helicopter, T129 ATAK successfully completed its first test flight, at Augusta Westland's facilities near Milan. Senior Turkish and Italian officials attended the ceremony held Monday on the occasion of the test flight for combat and reconnaissance helicopter T129 ATAK --an enhanced version of the Italian Agusta Westland's A-129s-- which will be jointly produced by Turkey and Italy.

Turkey's Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI) -- the prime contractor -- and Italy's Agusta Westland -- a subcontractor -- will jointly produce the aircraft under an 2007 agreement signed for the purchase of 51 (plus 40 optional) helicopters for the Turkish Land Forces.

Speaking during the ceremony, Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said T129 would be furnished with the latest generation chopper engine capable of performing in high temperatures and altitudes. He said the successful test flight of T129 ATAK would boost the value of T-129 helicopters in the international market adding that other countries might show interest in this attack helicopter.

AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi who said that he was pleased to celebrate the first flight of the world's most advanced attack helicopter pointed out that the project T-129 ATAK, was ahead of the planned schedule. Orsi said TAI had great technological capabilities noting that this project would contribute to TAI and Turkish aviation industry in general.

"Today, Turkish aviation industry is entering a new era in helicopter rotor technology. We are determined to carry this successful cooperation further with the same efficiency," said Orsi. TAI General Director, Muharrem Dortkasli said the first T129 ATAK would be handed over to the Turkish Armed Forces in July 2013 adding that their final goal was to sell T129s in the international merket.

The helicopter will be equipped with avionic and weapon systems designed and produced indigenously, and the mission computer and targeting, navigation, communication and electronic warfare systems will be developed and produced by ASELSAN, a leading defense company in Turkey.

TAI will have the right to use and administer the intellectual property of the T129 ATAK Helicopter, and it will be the sole source for its work share under the ATAK program for all potential future world wide sales of the T129 ATAK Helicopter. The program agreement also provides TAI with the right to sell and market the T129 ATAK Helicopter worldwide.

Established on 15 May 1984, TAI, is a supplier for Aermacchi, AgustaWestland, Airbus, Boeing, EADS CASA, Eurocopter, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, MDHI, Sikorsky and co-produced so far; F-16 fighters, CN-235 light transport/maritime patrol/surveillance aircraft, SF-260 trainers, Cougar AS-532 general purpose helicopters.

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