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TAI Aims to Ramp-up its Commercial Work-Packages

TAI President & CEO Temel Kotil, Ph.D, held a breakfast meeting with the press at IDEF. Mr. Kotil candidly responded all questions on TAI’s future plans and strategies as well as the agenda at the meeting taking place on the second day of the event

Stating that the Turkish Defense Industry has made grand progress in recent years, Mr. Kotil expressed that Turkey needed a devoted team in order to reveal its indigenous programs and added that the existing programs could only attain achievement through this point of view. Mr. Kotil said: “In order to become the first country stepping on the moon, the United States worked until the first days of dawn, ceaselessly without getting any overtime payment and as a result of those endeavors the technological-base of the United States could be formed. With our engineers and all our staff, we need to have the same amount of enthusiasm within the scope of the Turkish Fighter development program toward achieving success.”

Underlining that a crucial responsibility was assigned to their company as part of the Turkish Fighter program, Mr. Kotil announced that the platform to be revealed will be a twin-engine fighter jet capable of flying in supersonic speed and will be able to carry the ammunition within the weapons bay at the air-frame, that it will have covered stealth technology. Stating that manufacturing a platform of this category comprising high technology incorporates certain challenges as well, Mr. Kotil continued: “In order to build a platform with the aforesaid capabilities, Turkey has to acquire different critical capabilities in 14 sectors. Turkey has to manufacture its own technology in material groups consist of cutting edge technology such as titanium and carbon composite. It is not quite practical to procure this high-tech material from abroad and in such a complex project we must find out and resolve these issues single-handedly. On the other hand, we have an important responsibility for the establishment of a robust and sustainable eco-system with a design and test infrastructure.”

Mr. Temel Kotil: “We will organized a team of 600 staff as part of the PDR stage of the TF-X program”

Conveying information to the press members on the details of the contract signed with the British company BAE Systems, Mr. Kotil said that the company will be providing them 150 qualified personnel and engineers for a four-year period and continued: “This team assigned to work in Turkey will be working in our company for 4 years. At the first stage, a team of 300 personnel will be organized in Turkey, we aim to bring a team of 150 qualified and experienced personnel who worked actively in these types of programs from abroad to Turkey. This team composed of 600 staff will be revealing Turkish Fighter with all its architectural structure; its critical parts such as the engine, geometrical structure and airframe internal weapons bay on paper. Then, during the following stage, the critical design activities will be launched.”

Touching also upon the importance of the fact that Turkey is conducting this design from square one, Mr. Kotil expressed that this approach will also enable a long lasting design. Mr. Kotil: “We are aware of the challenges of manufacturing a Fighter Aircraft. If one has an optimal design on the paper then this would prove to be a crucial acquirement. You will have the advantage of manufacturing this aircraft you designed for 50 years.”

Mr. Kotil stated that the maiden flight of the aircraft was scheduled for 2023 and that the time was running out and continued: “There are years ahead us that we have to use efficiently. In the design stage, all grey areas from the critical components to the engine selection of the aircraft have to be clarified. There are no final decisions reached on the procurement of the engine for the time being. But we assess that this aircraft will be able to fly with its unique engine in 2030s. The General Manager of TEI made a commitment to me. They will be integrating the indigenous T625 engine under development to the “Özgün” Multi-Role Helicopter platform within three years (a period of 8 years is envisaged in the contract within the scope of the development program). This engine is not as complex as the Fighter aircrafts’ engine but the production of such an engine in our country is promising for me in the future.” 

Upon the question regarding the financial size of the program with all its processes and whether they are making a feasibility study for this Mr. Kotil said: “Lockheed Martin is developing and manufacturing the 5th generation F-35 JSF aircrafts. An expenditure of $ 60 billion is mentioned for 3 different configurations up to date. So, we are speaking of a figure of $ 20 billion for a single configuration. There are no figures to be discussed but we need a major fund to put forth such a platform in the end. Surely, if there is multi-national participation in the program after the PDR stage in the following processes, there will be a decline in the figures Turkey allocates through its own resources.”

Mr. Temel Kotil: “There will be some Changes in the Wings and Airframe of the Anka Platform”

Informing the press members that there will be crucial modifications on the Anka UAV system in the upcoming period Mr. Kotil said: “We are re-designing Anka’s wings. We will reveal a flatter wing without wing flaps over it. Similarly, we aim to conduct retrofit activities in the airframe. Moreover, we are discussing in house how we could achieve a bigger platform capable of carrying more payload. There is no such request of our government from us but we are already getting prepared as if we will receive the order.”

Sharing the recent developments on the Hürkuş-B Basic and Primary Trainer Aircraft, the production, equipping and integration activities of which are ongoing at the mass production line and Hürkuş-C New Generation Light Attack/Reconnaissance Aircraft with the members of the press Mr. Kotil continued: “When the procurement process of Glass Cockpit system developed and produced by Aselsan and subject to military certification, diversifying Hürkuş-B platform from the Hürkuş-A configuration with civil certification, the aircrafts will practically become airworthy. We revised the delivery schedule of the Hürkuş-B aircrafts as December 2017.  The Hürkuş-C configuration will be basically built over the Hürkuş- B aircraft. As ammunition and various payloads will be carried over this configuration, the aircraft will have to be reinforced. The retrofit of the landing gears and wings is required and our activities to this end continue. For the command control of the weapon systems, certain changes have to be accomplished on the monitors in front of the second pilot. We made the aforementioned modifications with Roketsan.”

Mr. Temel Kotil: “TAI will Focus on Commercial Programs in the upcoming Period”

Sharing that TAI’s consolidated budget was around $ 1.6 billion, Mr. Kotil stated that $ 500 million of this figure was from commercial programs. Mr. Kotil: “There will be certain changes in our projections for the upcoming period. When we analyze the existing situation, 2/3 of our turnover consisted of military programs and the remaining 1/3 is composed of civilian and commercial programs. We aim to build a structure in which the commercial programs would form 3/4 of our turnover.  In order to achieve a sustainable structure for TAI, the civilian programs will have to gain momentum.” 

Preliminary Studies Communication Satellites Weighted at 1 Ton Commenced 

Making important statements on TAI’s space studies, Mr. Kotil elaborated by saying that TAI launched the TAI Spacecraft Assembly, Integration and Test Center in which the installation, integration and tests of the satellites weighing up to 5 tons are being conducted with an investment of $ 100 million. “At this center built within the scope of the Göktürk-2 program, the tests, installation and integration activities of our national systems are being conducted. We need new satellite programs for the effective and efficient utilization of this facility. In recent years there has been global  interest towards the communication satellites of especially up to 1 ton weight category. We currently initiated the preliminary studies for achieving this. We do not have too much free space in our center for the satellite systems of 5 tons weight but we have many spaces to locate the satellite systems weighing up to 1 ton as they do not occupy too much space. With the approval of our Members of the Board, our goal is to launch the design of 1 ton satellites through our own resources. We made pre-interviews with 2 different users in this area. We will be creating a significant source of income if we manage to launch these satellites of 1 ton into orbit within two-years.”

TAI President & CEO Mr. Temel Kotil conveyed essential messages to the candidate engineers studying engineering and the engineers devoted to aerospace during the final part of the press meeting. Mr. Kotil said: “We launched a crucial study with Istanbul Technical University in order to develop and manufacture a Very Light Aircraft of 700 kg. 24 students and 11 academicians from İTÜ will be involved in this project as well. The certification of the aircraft is planned to be completed after 24 months in this program with a total budget of $ 1.5 million. We aim to conduct a similar study with Middle East Technical University in the upcoming period. We attach great importance to our youth and I would especially like to underline that we are open to their projects and ideas. They can send their projects via okul@tai.com.tr. We will be closely examining all projects regarding aviation and will be trying to provide support to most of them.”