The Turkish-built T-70 multi-role utility helicopter will begin test flights next year, Turkish Aerospace Industry (TUSAŞ/TAI) Deputy General Manager Kemal Yıllıkçı has said.
The helicopter, based on the Sikorsky Aircraft’s S-70i Black Hawk helicopters, will be developed indigenously. They will be delivered as of 2021.
The T-70 helicopters are being customized based on the S-70i Black Hawk helicopters of Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin Company, as part of the Utility Helicopter Program (TUHP).
The first of the 109 T-70 helicopters developed for the program was rolled out of the hangar Monday.
In 2016, TAI inked a $3.5-billion deal with Sikorsky Aircraft. As part of the deal, 109 T-70 type Black Hawk helicopters will be produced and delivered to the Turkish Air Forces, Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), General Commandership of the Gendarmerie, Special Forces Command, the Security General Directorate and the General Directorate of Forestry within the next 10 years beginning from the date of the deal. TAI will customize the T-70 helicopter in two configurations, for utility and firefighting.
For every T-70 helicopter that TAI assembles for the Turkish end users, TAI will also assemble an S-70i helicopter that Sikorsky will purchase from TAI for sale in the international market.
“With the TUHP, in addition to 140 helicopters in our country’s inventory, 109 helicopters will be produced for us,” Yıllıkçı told Anadolu Agency (AA) Thursday. “The licensee Sikorsky pledged approximately $1.5 billion in exports of 109 helicopters from this configuration to third countries,” he added. The helicopter will kick off its test flights next year following a series of qualification and certification studies, said Yıllıkçı.
“We need to finish the qualification in 2021 and start the delivery of the helicopters coming out of mass production… 2020 will be challenging and intensive. Flying these helicopters one by one, the certification, qualification is not an easy thing but from 2021 onwards, we plan to rapidly deliver 36 helicopters by 2023,” he explained.
TAI is leading the program as a prime contractor with other subcontractor companies; Sikorsky Aircraft, Aselsan, Turkish Engine Industries (TEI) and Alp Aviation. The T-70 will be equipped with domestic software and hardware and will have a locality ratio of 95%.
“One of the most important points of this program is the development of avionics and equipment such as navigation, operation control and communication through national and local means by Aselsan and our integration of these into the helicopter,” Yıllıkçı said.
Recalling that Black Hawk has been designed and produced by Sikorsky since the mid-1970s as a multi-purpose and superior military general-purpose helicopter that can provide close support to military threat environments, he remarked that the Black Hawk is being used successfully in 28 countries with approximately 10 million safe flights on the field.
“Turkey is the country with the second-largest Black Hawk fleet after the U.S. in the world,” he said, explaining that the helicopter has been used by Turkish security forces since 1980 and that there are 140 helicopters in the inventory at the moment.