Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, right, walks with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal in Tripoli Dec. 29. Zeidan visited Turkish Aerospace Industries Jan. 3. (Getty Images)
ANKARA — Turkey’s procurement officials are hoping to penetrate into the emerging Libyan arms market, especially with aerial platforms Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is developing.
“We are hopeful about a powerful entry,” one senior procurement official said. “The Libyans are keen to explore possibilities of cooperation.”
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan visited TAI production facilities on Jan. 3, the company announced. It said that he was briefed on the possible sale of the T-129 ATAK attack and tactical reconnaissance helicopter and the Hurkus basic trainer aircraft.
A TAI official said the company hoped to launch talks on potential sales of both platforms to Libya.
“Libya could be a promising market soon,” he said. “Especially in view of the fact that political relations are excellent.”
TAI has been developing the T-129 in partnership with the Italian-British AgustaWestland. Earlier, TAI launched talks on potential sales to Pakistan, Jordan and Azerbaijan.
The initial T-129A is being used for flight testing while the full specification T-129B is still under development. For any sales deal, however, Turkey must obtain US permission to export the LHTEC CTS800-4N engine powering the T-129.
The TAI official also said that Libya, which is still trying to improve its Air Force after a revolution toppled former leader Moammar Gadhafi, could be a potential buyer for the Hurkus trainer.
The Turkish government Dec. 26 signed a contract for the serial production of two versions of the Hurkus, an indigenous trainer aircraft developed by TAI. TAI has said the Hurkus-A, an analog cockpit-base model, made its maiden flight Aug. 23. It has flown a total of 800 hours in 15 sorties since then.
The contract involves the production of 15 Hurkus-Bs, an advanced version with improved avionics. Turkey’s military electronics specialist, Aselsan, will be tasked to produce military avionics for the aircraft.
TAI also said the contract involves conceptual design work for the Hurkus-C, an armed aircraft with aerial support, reconnaissance and surveillance roles.
The two-seat Hurkus will have a maximum lifespan of 10,500 flight hours, or about 35 years. The turboprop has a single 1,600-horsepower engine and can fly at a height of 10,577 meters at a maximum speed of 574 kilometers per hour.
The Hurkus will be equipped for day and night flying, as well as for basic pilot training, instrument flying, navigation training, and weapons and formation training. It 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 shock-absorbing landing gear for training missions. ■