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Liaison and General-Purpose Aircraft Project Was It Shelved or is It Still Active?

Issue 103

The Turkish Land Forces and the Turkish Police have been looking for new assets that will enhance their mobility and capability to support critical operations, but at the same time are flexible enough to also be used for operations to support humanitarian crises, Medical Evacuation Missions (MEDEVAC) and are capable of VIP and passenger transport.

To this end, the SSB launched a tender in 2016 to procure a total of 9 Liaison and General-Purpose Aircraft (GPA), 6 for the Turkish Land Forces and 3 for the Turkish Police. The Request for Proposal (RFP) document prepared as part of the Project was published by the SSB on June 21, 2016. The bidders were asked to submit their proposals to the Department of Aircraft at the SSB by August 19, 2016. However, the proposal submission deadline was extended five times by the SSB during August 19, 2016 and December 29, 2017. Leonardo offered the C-27J Spartan and ADS offered its C295 to meet both Turkish Army and Turkish Police requirements. Responding to our question regarding the GPA Project, Head of the Leonardo Representative Office in Ankara, Camillo PIROZZI underlined that Leonardo submitted its proposal that incorporates the broad involvement of Turkish Industry, in December 2017 at the request of the SSB. The other bidder for the tender was Ukraine based Antonov Company with its An-178. In 2019 the Gendarmerie General Command’s General-Purpose Aircraft requirements also included in the GPA project. According to Gendarmerie General Command’s 2019 Activity Report, the GPAs will be utilized to ensure the dispatch of large operation units together with their equipment and materials in a short time between long distances without being affected by meteorological conditions and the project cost will be financed through the national budget. However, the Report does not contain any information on how many GPAs will be procured to meet the Gendarmerie General Command’s requirements. According to recent news both the Gendarmerie General Command and the Turkish Police have shown interest in the AN-178 and in this context the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Interior Delegation comprising senior officials from the Gendarmerie Aviation Department and the Turkish Police Aviation Department paid a visit to Antonov facilities in October 2019 and inspected the AN-178 production line. Antonov is offering Turkey a joint production model for the AN-178. 

According to the information we acquired, the Liaison and GPA to be procured for the Turkish Land Forces are required to have the capability to carry the blades of the CH-47F Chinook Heavy Lift Helicopters, the deliveries of which were launched for the Turkish Army in July 2016. As the length of each of the six blades of the CH-47F Helicopter is 914.4 cm (360 inches), the aircraft to be procured in this case needed to have a cabin length minimum of 9.5m and a rear ramp that would assist the easy embarkation and disembarkation of both the passengers and the cargo load. 

The C-27J Spartan is a new generation tactical airlifter with great market success, with 87 aircraft already sold to 16 operators in 14 countries across five continents. The Spartan is a twin-turboprop tactical airlifter with state-of-the-art technologies in avionics, propulsion system and other on-board systems. Thanks to its very versatile design, the C-27J is ideal for roles including troop and materials transport, medical evacuation, paratroop and materials airdrops, search and rescue (SAR), logistic supply, humanitarian support, fire-fighting and civil emergency operations support. Purpose-designed kits also allow VIP transport and other missions. The C-27J has a large cargo box, capable of supporting almost 5 tons per square meter. The aircraft can carry pallets or platforms weighing up to 6,000kg, or 60 equipped soldiers, 46 fully equipped paratroops, 36 stretchers or other combinations up to a 32,500kg maximum takeoff weight. The aircraft can operate from airstrips under 500 meters. 

The Airbus C295 is a new generation tactical airlifter in the light and medium segment. It is robust and reliable but also highly versatile in terms of the number of different missions it can perform. In total, ADS received 214 orders as of October 2020 and completed deliveries of 181 C295s. The aircraft is noted for its short takeoff and landing capability on semi-prepared runways and for the large payload capacity of 9,250kgs. The landing and takeoff run of just 320m and 670m allow the aircraft access to runways close to operational or crisis areas or where supplies and troops are needed.

Intended to replace AN-12 and C-160D Transall medium transport aircraft the AN-178 multi-purpose transport aircraft was developed by Antanov state enterprise, which is part of the Ukroboronprom Group. The first AN-178 prototype was rolled out in Kyiv on 16 April 2015. The AN-178’s flight altitude is 12.2km, the range is 3,680km, and its maximum speed is 825km/h. The AN-178 with a cargo door and a ramp in the tail section is intended for delivery of personnel, weaponry, and light military vehicles, for transportation of material assets, mail and other cargoes in bulk, containerized and palletized freight. Powered by two D-436-148FM turbofan engines developed by Ivchenko-Progress the aircraft can carry 90 soldiers, 70/84 paratroops or evacuate 70 sick and wounded persons. The maximum payload is 18 tons. In emergency situations the AN-178 can evacuate civilians from disaster areas, casualties in standard stretchers and conduct airdropping of paratroop rescue teams.

According to our sources, the Liaison and General-Purpose Aircraft (GPA) Project is not active as of October 2020 due to budget constraints and could be shelved for a while until the budget problem is resolved. Meanwhile, on October 23, 2020 at a press conference, Deputy Prime Minister in Charge of Strategic Industries of Ukraine, Oleg URUSKY announced that Turkey could provide financing for the completion of the construction of the 2nd Antonov An-225 Mriya Strategic Cargo Aircraft. In 2019, it was stated that around US$300 to US$400 Million would be required to finish three decades old unfinished An-225 airframes at the Antonov facility. In 2019 the SSB launched a project to procure a cargo aircraft that would be utilized in transportation of Turkish Defense Industry products from Turkey to foreign countries both for the purpose of Exhibition participation and export activities.