Following months of delays, Turkey has accepted its first T-129 attack helicopter. (AgustaWestland)
ANKARA — After several months of technical snags, the Turkish Army has accepted the first T-129 attack helicopter coproduced by Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and AgustaWestland, the Italian-British helicopter maker.
The first batch of T-129 helicopters, dubbed the T-129A EDH, which Turkey acquired from AgustaWestland, had repeatedly failed acceptance tests since 2012 due to a mismatch with technical specifications stated in the contract.
Industry sources said issues involved a lower-than-required maximum speed, excess vibration during flight, maximum takeoff weight and poor firing performance.
The six T-129A EDHs are part of a batch of nine choppers that Turkey ordered in November 2010, increasing its total order to 60.
A procurement official said Turkey expects “significant foreign interest” in the T-129. “There is significant potential for exports. This chopper is possibly the best solution in the world in asymmetrical warfare.”
The T-129s were largely built by AgustaWestland in Italy with an expected delivery in late 2012, one year before the Turkish-built helicopters would start being delivered. The first nine choppers are to be armed by Turkey.
Turkey announced on March 30, 2007, that it had decided to negotiate with AgustaWestland to co-develop and produce 51 attack helicopters with options for an additional 40, based on the company’s A-129 Mangusta International. The T-129s would be assembled in a TAI plant near here. A contract was signed on Sept. 7, 2007.
On June 22, 2008, the $3.2 billion agreement, also known as ATAK, between TAI and AgustaWestland formally came into force. Tusas Engine Industries will manufacture the T-129s’ LHTEC CTS800-AN engines under license.
Under the coproduction agreement, Turkey also has full marketing and intellectual property rights for the T-129. ■