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T70 Getting Ready for its Maiden Flight!

Issue 98

Within the scope of the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program (TUHP) worth nearly US$ 3.5 billion, the ground tests of the first of the 109 T70 Helicopters (TLF-1/Turkish Land Forces version) to be serial-produced by Turkish Aerospace (TUSAS) as the main contractor, are being successfully conducted. The exhaustive flight testing for qualification and certification is expected to be started next month.

The Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) shared the latest status of the T70 Utility Helicopter on its official Twitter account on March 25, 2020 with the following statement: “The ground tests of the T70 Helicopter manufactured within the scope of the Utility Helicopter Program are being successfully conducted.”

The T70 TLF-1 was rolled out with a ceremony held at TUSAS facilities on November 25, 2019. In his statement made to Anadolu Agency regarding the latest status of the TUHP on November 28, 2019, TUSAS Executive Vice President of Helicopter Department, Kemal YILLIKÇI emphasized that Aselsan would manufacture the most advanced avionics systems for the helicopters and said, “They cannot be jammed or interfered in any way because the hardware and software were developed by us. Our helicopter will operate very safely and securely.” YILLIKÇI also explained that the first serial production helicopter (TLF-1) was rolled out and integration and development activities for avionic systems were being carried out by Aselsan over a prototype provided by Sikorsky and added that a series of qualification and certification activities as well as test flights would be realized in 2020.

The deliveries are planned to be started by 2021 (the OGM configuration) under the TUHP, the contract of which was signed on February 21, 2014 and became effective on June 15, 2016 with the advance payment made to Sikorsky and TUSAS by the SSB, after Sikorsky obtained the necessary government licenses. When the indigenously developed Aselsan Integrated Modular Avionics System (IMAS) is integrated into the S-70i™ International BlackHawk (IBH), the final configuration of the helicopter is called the T70 Helicopter. Within the scope of the project, a total of 109 T70 helicopters, with two different configurations based on the S-70i™ IBH model, will be delivered within a 10-year period to a total of six end-users (Turkish General Staff [OzKK, 11], Land Forces Command [KKK, 22], Air Forces Command [HvKK, 6], Gendarmerie General Command [JGnK, 30], General Directorate of Security [EGM, 20 ] and General Directorate of Forestry [OGM, 20]). 

The existing Flight Management System (FMS) on the Sikorsky S-70i™ IBH Basic Helicopter will be replaced by unique Aselsan IMAS, fully developed by Aselsan engineers with the contributions of Sikorsky and TUSAS test pilots and combat pilots of the TAF (Turkish Armed Forces). Through IMAS, Mission Computers and Color Multifunction Display (CMFD) are combined on single equipment, and Navigation, Communication, Mission and Flight Management are performed at a single center. The IMAS avionics suite aims to minimize the workload of the pilot, and thanks to the smart point-and-click displays and ergonomically improved new Pilot Platform Interface, a series of navigational based improvements were also made in line with the requirements of the Turkish end-users.  These improvements include an Integrated Terrain Awareness and Warning System, Integrated Digital Map and connected flight control functions for guided approach to the landing area. According to the contract signed with Sikorsky, IMAS will not only be used on the 109 T70 helicopters that Turkey plans to procure, but also on at least 164 helicopters to be sold to third countries by Sikorsky.

Following the completion of the development activities and laboratory tests of the devices covered by IMAS, it was planned to assemble such devices on an S-70i Helicopter to be brought to Aselsan by Sikorsky and to conduct flight tests with the participation of Aselsan engineers by Sikorsky pilots. As per the project, the development activities will be completed with the Approval of Airworthiness by the Sikorsky Quality Assurance Board (QAB).

Under the TUHP, the development, production and integration activities of mission, navigation, communication (including IFF Mod 5/C Responder) and electronic warfare systems are carried out by Aselsan under the subcontracting agreements executed by TUSAS and Sikorsky. Software and hardware development activities under the project were completed in 2018, and the testing and verification process are still going on. In Aselsan’s 2019 Annual Report, it is stated that the platform flight tests are planned to be initiated in the first half of 2020.

Within the scope of the TUHP, the S-70™ IBH Basic Helicopter (with the registration no of SP-YVB) to be utilized as the Engineering Development Test Platform (Test Bed) during the integration, flight test and qualification processes of the IMAS avionics suite developed by Aselsan, was dispatched from Poland to Turkey on February 25, 2017. The S-70i™ IBH Basic Helicopter that took off from the PZL Mielec facilities in southern Poland landed at the Aselsan facilities in Akyurt, Ankara after a 9-hour flight. During the 930nm route, the helicopter passed through Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria and refueled twice on the ground.

The TLF-1 ground test image was shared by the SSB on March 25, 2020 via an official twitter account.  In this image we noticed that the color multifunction display in the helicopter’s avionic suite differs from the model in the standard S-70i™ IBH in terms of the interior cockpit layout and the control buttons on them. In the new cockpit is structurally modified, two SMFD-810s and two VMFD-810s are available, which are part of the IMAS avionics suite. According to the information we obtained, the Aselsan logo has not been placed to ensure compliance with the S-70i™ IBH and for the reason that it will be used by helicopters to be exported to third countries by Sikorsky.

The main contractor TUSAS, under the Program, performs the assembly of gearboxes of T70 Helicopters, production of all main components such as cabin, cockpit, tail cone, horizontal and vertical tail, main and tail rotor blades, design and integration activities for modifications, final assembly, testing and flight activities of the helicopters as well as the deliveries. Moreover, the Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) activities of the Program will be carried out by TUSAS.

Within the scope of the Program, TEI, the Engine Subcontractor, will be responsible for the production of 60 different components corresponding to roughly 58% of the T700 engine, engine assembly, final testing, qualification and configuration management. Hot spot parts such as the engine's combustion chamber are manufactured by TEI. TEI also gets the opportunity to perform Depot Level Maintenance (DLM) of T700 engines in the inventory of the TAF with the local production parts and will carry out competitive DLM activities throughout a very large geography in addition to Turkey. TEI completed the manufacturing and final assembly activities of four T000-TEI-701D turboshaft engines with a capacity of 2,000 shp under TUHP and delivered them at a ceremony held on May 13, 2019. Under the Program TEI will manufacture a total of 248 T700-TEI-701D Turboshaft Engines (218 T70 platform engines and 30 spare engines). 

Within the scope of the “Dynamic Components Project” under the TUHP program, Alp Aviation will produce the Main Rotor Heads, Main Gearboxes/Transmission, and the Intermediate and Tail Rotor Gearboxes. Alp Aviation will also provide 104 chipsets for the dynamic components as part of the project. 

Alp Aviation made the first delivery of T70 dynamic components and landing gear at a ceremony held on January 15, 2020