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ATAK-II Contract Signed for the New Heavy Class Attack Helicopter

The Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) signed a contract with Turkish Aerospace (TUSAŞ) for the Heavy Class Attack Helicopter Project on February 22, 2019, to meet the needs of the Turkish Land Forces Command. President of Defence Industries Prof. İsmail DEMİR and representatives of the Turkish Armed Forces, TUSAŞ and defence industry sector representatives attended the signing ceremony at the Nuri DEMİRAĞ Meeting Hall of the Presidency of Defence Industries. The project contract was signed by the President of the SSB Prof. İsmail DEMİR, President & CEO of Turkish Aerospace Temel KOTİL and Turkish Aerospace Chairman of the Board Prof. Oğuz BORAT. The project aims to design and produce an effective and advanced attack helicopter equipped with state-of-the-art target tracking and imaging, electronic warfare, navigation, communications, and weapon systems. The ATAK-II is intended to operate in harsh geographical and environmental conditions and will have an increased payload while offering high maneuverability, performance and low maintenance costs. The project also aims to maximize the use of domestic systems to ensure the security of supply and freedom of export. 

The Heavy Class Attack Helicopter (Improved ATAK or ATAK-II) Project will play an important role in reducing the foreign dependency and increasing the effectiveness of the Turkish Armed Forces by implementing indigenous, national and innovative solutions that emerged from current domestic projects. Designed with the national and local capabilities as well as the technological know-how and operational experience gained through the T129 Mk-I Lightweight Attack Helicopter (ATAK-I), the ATAK-II will also use sub-systems and components developed under the T625 GÖKBEY Multirole Helicopter Project. The T129 Mk-II Heavy Class Attack Helicopter (ATAK-II) to be developed will have a take-off weight of approximately two times the current T129 Mk-I ATAK helicopter and will be among the top-class attack helicopters with only two examples in the world. The first ATAK-II is expected to make its first flight within five years (approx. 60 months) of contract signature or in 2024. The project duration is estimated to be 8.5 years (approx. 102 months). Within the scope of the project, two types of Heavy Class Attack Helicopter configurations (Naval and Land version) will be developed, and three prototype helicopters will be delivered to the Presidency of Defence Industries together with the Technical Data Package (TDP).

General characteristics of the T129 Mk-II Heavy Class Attack Helicopter:

10-ton class

2 Turboshaft engines

Weapon stations: 6 x underwing hardpoints

Maximum payload: 1,200kg

Tandem cockpit

4 Axis Autopilot

Service ceiling: 20,000ft 

Maximum speed: 318km/h

Operational envelope: -40° to +50°C 

Armor: 12.7mm-resistant armored cockpit

Laser based Helicopter Obstacle Detection System (HETS) and Fire Control Radar (MilDAR)

Hot & High Performance 

Resistant to environmental factors

High forward speed limit 

Advanced electronic warfare and countermeasure systems 

High-caliber cannon (30mm), new generation 2,75-inch rockets, long range and anti-tank missiles with different guidance systems and air-to-air missile systems

Speaking at the signing ceremony, President of Defence Industries Prof. İsmail DEMİR stated that they expect the Heavy Class Attack Helicopter to make its maiden flight within the prescribed time and added: “Different versions and advanced models of our helicopters should not lag behind in new technologies.” Emphasizing that the helicopter will strengthen the operational capabilities of the Turkish Armed Forces, İsmail DEMİR said: “After 5 years, we expect our helicopters to use all-new, more advanced weapon systems and munitions than what we have today.” On February 2019, President of the SSB İsmail DEMİR said in a statement to the channel NTV that they are open to friendly and allied countries who want to participate in the project. Additionally, in his statement to the press in January 2019, Prof. İsmail DEMİR also pointed out that the Performance Evaluation Phase of the Heavy Class Attack Helicopter Project will be completed in 2019.

Stating that the project aims for 100% localization, Turkish Aerospace Chairman Prof. Oğuz BORAT emphasized that the new helicopter will be designed exclusively by Turkish engineers. Prof. Oğuz BORAT pointed out that the ATAK-II combat helicopter will have an increased operational performance with higher ammunition carrying capacity and said: “Along with new generation mission equipment, superior payload, and operational capabilities, the helicopter is expected to bring dynamism to the world market & Turkey.” President & CEO of TUSAŞ Temel KOTİL also underlined that the helicopter will be 100% domestic and national because it is designed from scratch.

Earlier on October 3, 2017, Anadolu Agency reported that the aim of the ATAK-II Project was to develop a 6-ton class attack helicopter. Turkish Aerospace (TUSAŞ) announced on October 31, 2017 that it had begun domestic development of the 8-Ton Class (with 8.000kg MTOW and around 6.000 empty weight) ATAK-II combat helicopter. The Project would be realized domestically without foreign help based on the technical knowledge and operational experience gained with the T129 Mk-I attack helicopter currently produced under license from Leonardo Helicopters.  

Even though some of the sub-systems from the T625 GOKBEY TLUH (Turkish Lightweight Utility helicopter Program) will be used in the T129 Mk-II, nevertheless the helicopter still needs more powerful turboshaft engines because the TS1400 engine will not meet the T129 Mk-II’s thrust requirement. TEI plans to meet the engine requirement via 2.000shp class T700-TEI-701D engines, being manufactured under GE license (with a 61% local content share) for the T70 Utility Helicopters.

According to SSB figures, 6,300 of the 6,500 components/parts on T129 helicopters have been manufactured locally and the local content share on each T129 helicopter has reached around 50-55% as of May 2018. Each T129 ATAK Attack & Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopter costs around US$40 Million.