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Turkish Aerospace’s Unique Platforms were on Stage at IDEF’19

Issue 93

Turkish Aerospace showcased its unique platforms that are included in the Turkish Armed Forces inventory and the development processes of which are still ongoing at the 14th IDEF International Defence Industry Fair. Turkish Aerospace revealed the T625 GÖKBEY helicopter at IDEF’ 17, and at this year’s exhibition, the ANKA AKSUNGUR MALE Long-Endurance UAV as well as the 10 Ton Class ATAK-2 Attack Helicopter was unveiled by Turkish Aerospace. The HürKuş-B New Generation Basic Trainer Aircraft, which is still under the procurement process in line with the requirements of the Turkish Air Force, took part in the exhibition with its new generation cockpit equipped with Aselsan military avionics for the first time. The T129 ATAK helicopter, HürJet Advanced Jet Trainer & Light Attack Aircraft and 6 Ton Class T625 GÖKBEY Helicopter were also displayed in Turkish Aerospace’s closed static display area.  

During the three-day fair, Malaysia Air Force Commander 1st Army Commander Gen. Musa AVSEVER, Combat Air Force Commander Gen. Atilla GÜLAN and the Pakistani delegation together with Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar GÜLER and the accompanying delegation visited Turkish Aerospace’s booth on the first day of the exhibition. During the visit, detailed information about the platforms was presented by Temel KOTİL, President & CEO of Turkish Aerospace. Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi AKAR was amongst the visitors of the stand in the following days. During this visit, AKAR and the accompanying delegation closely examined the ANKA AKSUNGUR and the T625 GÖKBEY helicopter. The Commander of the Turkish Air Forces Gen. Hasan KÜÇÜKAKYÜZ and Gendarmerie General Commander Gen. Arif ÇETİN also received information from executives about the 10 Ton Class ATAK-II Helicopter as they visited the Turkish Aerospace booth. During IDEF’19 more than ten high-level official delegations from Turkey and abroad as well as thousands of visitors visited the company’s booth.

CEO & President of Turkish Aerospace Temel KOTİL gathered with the correspondent and editors of media on the third day of the exhibition. He shared his assessment of the exhibition with the media and shared details about the latest status of the development programs that are under the charge of Turkish Aerospace.  

At the press meeting, KOTİL mentioned that Turkish Aerospace assumed a critical role in the development and production of unique national platforms and added that existing capabilities and ongoing development projects were under the charge of Turkish Aerospace. 

KOTİL: “Our major project as Turkish Aerospace will be our 5th Generation fighter jet project dubbed as TF-X. The date of its rollout will be 2023. We are aiming for its maiden flight in 2026 (this schedule was revised as 2025 at the Paris Air Show TF-X Launch ceremony). The delivery of the first lot of these fighters will be projected in 2029 (also revised as 2028 at the Paris Air Show). There were no infrastructures for massive wind tunnels in Turkey, so we are establishing a subsonic and supersonic wind tunnel infrastructure within the scope of the program. We will be establishing the entire infrastructure such as lightning test facilities, electromagnetic interference tests, and composite facilities within our organization. The number of our engineers has reached 300 and also 100 engineers are employed at BAE Systems. We will increase the number of our engineers to 3,000 from the existing total of 400”.

KOTİL: “Turkish Aerospace will be increasing its annual production volume of Helicopters to 120 within the five helicopter projects”

Underlining that to date Turkish Aerospace has mostly been competent in helicopter platforms fields, KOTİL added that they were working on the development projects such as GÖKBEY in a 6-ton class, ATAK-2 in 10 ton-class and 10 ton class Unique Utility Helicopter and when the T129 ATAK helicopter serial production and the T70 helicopters to be manufactured under Sikorsky License are added, they will be considered among the world’s greatest OEMs. KOTİL continued, “As Turkish Aerospace, we are focusing on completing these five programs within five years. We will be manufacturing two platforms each month, and this will be nearly 120 helicopters on an annual basis. I presume Leonardo Company is the 3rd or 4th greatest helicopter manufacturer of the world, manufacturing 150-160 helicopters per year. We will become the fourth or fifth greatest helicopter manufacturer on a  global scale. Helicopters are one of our strongest departments. 400 employees are currently employed just in our Helicopter Department”.

Stating that Turkish Aerospace achieved crucial progress in  Space programs as well, KOTİL said, “Within the scope of space programs, the development and production process of GÖKTÜRK 6A is ongoing. The B model of this satellite will be manufactured in the aftermath and it will be launched and placed into orbit in 2020. For the first time Turkey is building its own satellite within these projects. Three satellites are being manufactured in our plant. The first one will be utilized for mechanical testing, the second one will be the satellite where all systems will be integrated and tested following the engineering model and the third will be the one to be launched into space. Presently, we are manufacturing the 2nd satellite. On the other hand, we teamed up with a satellite company from Argentina for a communication satellite which is a small GEO that will operate in a commercial orbit. We built a partnership with this company to this project. These Small GEO satellites in the 1-2 ton class are lighter than the conventional satellites, yet they feature a different technology, chemical fuels are being used in regular, classical satellites for commanding the satellite. Whereas, in small GEO satellites, there are ion thrusts operating the satellite with the electrical energy absorbed from solar panels. Our Argentinian partner owns such technology and we possess other technologies. Therefore, we are quite good at satellites as well”.

Pointing out that they exceeded the limit of US$ 500 million in the export of  aerostructure parts, KOTİL dded that they aimed to increase the aforementioned figure to US$ 2 billion in the upcoming period. KOTİL shared that as a company building its own platforms, Turkish Aerospace would always stick with manufacturing structural parts of aircraft and underlined that they will never pull out of the production of structural parts to the original equipment manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus. Stressing that they invested heavily in composite production KOTİL said, “We are making a major investment regarding composite. We are building the world’s fourth greatest facility that occupies an indoor area of 95 thousand square meters. We need to utilize the cutting-edge technologies of Europe and Turkey’s low-cost labor”.   

Making statements upon a question on how their production will be affected if Turkey was removed from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program, KOTİL said, “We are in charge of the production of F-35s center fuselage. Additionally, we integrated all equipment such as the hydraulics and pipes inside the fuselage. These center fuselages are then dispatched to the Northrop Grumman facility and after that they are dispatched to Lockheed Martin for the final assembly. This production process does not have a major share within our portfolio of US$ 500 million. It is not my place to comment on how both countries will come to a decision, or which consequences we may face, but our department for aerostructures has already ramped-up its production capabilities. We have been receiving huge demands and are producing in three shifts. We are having a hard time  catering to the requests in the production of aerostructures and eventually, founding a new plant is inevitable. We are investing in this composite facility”. 

Turkish Aerospace to Establish the World’s Fourth Largest Composite Facility 

Aerospace will establish Turkey’s largest and the world’s 4th largest composite facility under a single roof. The facility, which will be built with an investment of US$ 181 million, will  occupied an indoor area spanning 95 thousand square meters at the company’s central campus in Kahramankazan. The giant plant, where structural components of aircraft and helicopters will be manufactured, aims to supply 2 percent of global aerostructure composite requirements.

In addition to high-level technological production, new product designs and product developments will be performed at the facility. High accuracy and efficiency will be achieved by utilizing the autonomous devices in all processes in the plant. Preparing its infrastructure for Industry 4.0, Turkish Aerospace will actualize its composite facility as a smart digital factory and support production with VR/AR (Virtual and Augmented Reality) applications. According to the composite type, precision and faultless production will be made with customized robotic, autonomous equipment. Machine to Machine communication will also be  actualized in the facilities. The facilities will be equipped with thousands of sensors and communication systems and the entire production process and efficiency can be monitored in real-time. Advanced cutting and measuring systems will be used in the facility. Produced parts will be subjected to quality control processes by means of nondestructive testing methods with ultrasonic and x-ray systems and their assembly will be completed. Dyeing houses will operate autonomously with artificial intelligence and all parts will be handled in an untouched method and made ready for shipment.

Conveying information on the development process of ANKA – AKSUNGUR, KOTİL stated that the platform was developed over the ANKA platform and was completed in a short period of 18 months and continued: “The test flights of the first platform are still going on. We are displaying the second platform here at IDEF. We will be delivering the third aircraft to the Turkish Armed Forces this year. We have been funding this project through our own resources and have allocated a modest budget to this program. It will be delivered to the end-user within two years”. 

ANKA AKSUNGUR Advanced Long-Endurance – Multirole Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Attack UAV will be on Duty by 2020! 

Upon the launch of the serial production of the ANKA product family, in August 2017, the Turkish Aerospace Unmanned Systems Department started to work on five different alternatives to develop an Unmanned Air Vehicle that can carry more payload and munitions. Following the presentation on this subject, the program was launched through company’s own funds in line with the Board decision. The conceptual design activities were accelerated in September 2018 over the selected design within the scope of the program. The System Requirements Review Meeting was completed on 18 October 2017 and the pre-design review meeting was held on 13 February 2018. Eventually, the review meeting for the detailed design took place on 20 June 2018. According to the 17 month program schedule, Turkish Aerospace launched the prototype production in a short span of time. To this end, a new wing was swiftly designed for AKSUNGUR, the software and hardware of which were based on the ANKA configurations. These wings were designed within a group concept by Turkish Aerospace engineers. The wings are in forms of mid and outer wings enabling both portability and fitting in the hangar. 

The prototype was first powered on 4 December 2018 and AKSUNGUR was eventually rolled out on 28 January 2019. Following this, the ground tests of the platform were launched on 17 February 2019. The ignition of engine run-up on 28 February 2018, and the taxi tests were launched on 7 March 2019. On 20 March 2019, AKSUNGUR which has a 24-meter  wingspan and is powered by twin engines, successfully accomplished its maiden flight which lasted 4 hours and 20 minutes.   

Two turbocharged PD170 diesel engines developed by TEI powered the platform in the maiden flight of ANKA AKSUNGUR and thus the platform is the first user of the PD170 engines in Turkey. AKSUNGUR is projected to complete its certification and qualification flights with the PD 170 engines. But the serial production configurations are going to lift-off with a pair of PD222 (165 KW) engines that are an upper version of PD 170. TEI continues to develop PD222 over the PD170 engine. 

Within the scope of the program in which a total of three prototypes are to be manufactured, the first prototype accomplished its debut flight in March 2019, and it is currently under flight tests, the second prototype is expected to become involved in the test campaign at the end of July. The third AKSUNGUR to be built as part of the program will be directly delivered to the end-user at the end of 2019.  The two platforms cumulatively are expected to complete about 50-60 hours of test flights by the end of 2019. AKSUNGUR is also planned to be qualified in way to be able to drop at least one of the unique heavy munitions by the end of 2019. In the shared data provided by Turkish Aerospace, if no delay occurs, AKSUNGUR’s qualification will be finalized in February 2020 and its serial production will be launched in the first quarter of 2020. 

AKSUNGUR has an endurance capacity of 40 hours with 750 kilograms of payload at a 40.000ft altitude as well as 3.3-ton maximum take-off weight. Thanks to the open system architecture, allowing different operation concepts, the platform is capable of carrying various payloads and ammunition. For  Maritime Patrol Missions, it will have an endurance capacity of 12 hours at an altitude of 25.000ft with a 750 kg payload. Throughout SIGINT Missions its endurance capacity will be 24 hours at 40.000ft with 150kg payload. The platform is capable of carrying EO/ Infrared/ Laser Designator/ Laser Range Finder Camera, SAR/GMTI-ISAR Camera, Wide Area Surveillance, SIGINT, COMINT/DF and ESM/ELINT payload options in respect with the Imagery Intelligence mission. Last but not least, regarding Maritime Patrol Missions, the platform features SAR/GMTI-ISAR, automatic identification system, sonobuoy mission pod and MAD Boom payload options. In terms of communication systems payloads, the platform contains SATCOM Satellite Communication, Personnel Locator System (PLS), V/UHF Radio Relay and communication service pod as well. In terms of ammunition, AKSUNGUR features 3 weapon stations at each wing with capacities of 500 Kg, 300 Kg and 150Kg. TEBER -81 (laser guided MK-81), TEBER-82 (laser guided MK-82), LUMTAS, MAM-L, CİRİT, MAM-C, HGK-3 (Precision Guidance Kit) and KGK (82) (Winged Guidance Kit) and Smart Bombs could be carried within these stations. 

KOTİL: “We Aim to Increase our Consolidated Turnover to US$ 11 Billion in Ten Years” 

Adding that they will be launching the GÖKSUNGUR project which will be capable of reaching higher levels of speed in the next stage of AKSUNGUR, KOTİL also spoke about the turnover and staff aspects and their objectives for the upcoming period in the final part of the Q&A session. 

KOTİL stated that they employed 1000 engineers at their organization each year and said, “We employ about 1000 engineers each year and we aim to set up a robust eco-system. To this end we are particularly engaging with the high school students. There is a technical high school in aviation in Kızılcahamam and we are engaged with this school via the Ministry of National Education. Gazi University has a two-year aviation academy in Kahramankazan, we are engaged with this school as well and 400 students have been involved in our internship program. We have a good cooperation with İTÜ, METU, Yıldız Technical University, Bursa Uludağ University and other universities across Turkey. Because we need the young people to work for us starting from high school. We currently have 1000 intern engineers. They are 3rd and 4th year university students, and they come and work for us at minimum once a week. Currently, many students from various cities such as Gaziantep and Trabzon are coming to our company. The Credit and Dormitories Directorate are providing them accommodation. And we pay them a salary of approximately TL 1200. We made protocols with 45 universities. In addition to 1000 engineers being trained at our facilities, there are 1000 technicians and at least half of them will be working for us when they graduate in two years”. 

Telling that they planned to achieve a consolidated turnover of US$ 2.6 billion in 2019, KOTİL stated they targeted US$ 11 billion in turnover in next decade