ANKARA — Turkey’s first indigenous basic trainer aircraft has been approved for flight testing, with the maiden flight planned “within the next year,” one official said.
Officials from Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), which is manufacturing the aircraft, said the civilian aviation authorities have issued a go-ahead certificate for the test.
The Hurkus is undergoing tests only for runway-holding, steering and braking time limits, officials said.
TAI is manufacturing four prototypes of the Hurkus for a round of tests. The first prototype successfully went through engine tests in February, the second is being tested for static durability and cabin pressure, the third is being assembled, and the fourth will be tested for metal fatigue.
A total of 220 aviation experts are supporting the certification work for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) CS 23 standards.
The two-seat Hurkus will be have a 35-year service life, or 10,500 flight hours. The turboprop aircraft has a 1,600-horsepower engine that can fly at an altitude of 10,577 meters at a maximum speed of 574 kilometers per hour.
Success on the Hurkus development would be a landmark achievement for Turkish industry and reduce dependence on foreign acquisitions. The Hurkus program began after Turkey’s procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, tasked the company with designing and developing a national trainer in March 2006.
The Hurkus will be equipped for day and night flying as well as basic pilot training, instrument flying, navigation training, weapons and formation training. The aircraft will have good visibility from both cockpits with a 50-degree down-view angle from the rear cockpit, ejection seats, an on-board oxygen generation system, an environmental control system, an anti-G system, and high shock absorbing landing gear for training missions.
The Turkish government has indicated that the aircraft is expected to attract export sales, possibly from Arab countries or countries with limited air force budgets.
The Hurkus will come in four variants:
■ Hurkus-A: A basic version that has been certified with EASA, according to CS-23 requirements. It is intended for the civilian market.
■ Hurkus-B: An advanced version with integrated avionics including a mission computer, and cockpit avionics layout similar to F-16 and F-35 fighters. The Turkish Army is considering an initial order of 15 aircraft.
■ Hurkus-C: An armed version for the close-air support role, which will have a maximum weapons load of 3,300 pounds. The Turkish Army has expressed interest in the Hurkus-C to provide support for its attack helicopters.
■ Coast Guard version: TAI plans to offer another version of the Hurkus to support the Turkish Coast Guard’s maritime patrol activities. The aircraft’s back seat would be occupied by an operator for a forward-looking infrared sensor.