The T-129 attack helicopter is built by AgustaWestland and Turkish Aerospace Industries. (Turkish Aerospace Industries)
ANKARA — The first batch of three T-129 attack helicopters coproduced by the Italian-British AgustaWestland and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) joined the Turkish Army’s inventory at a high level ceremony here on Tuesday.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul thanked all parties involved in the program and said: “This [delivery] illustrates the technological level achieved by Turkey’s local industry, particularly in helicopter manufacturing.” Also present at the ceremony were Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek.
Under the program, AgustaWestland and TAI produced nine T-129 helicopter gunships. The $3.3 billion contract was signed in 2007 for an eventual batch of 59 helicopters. The partnership is coproducing five more.
Designed in two variants with close-air support and multitask mission features, the T-129 can undertake high-altitude missions with heavy artillery.
The gunship is equipped with at least 76 rockets for close-air support and advanced electronic warfare armaments. It will use locally-produced Mizrak anti-tank missiles and the Cirit laser-guided missile system.
In a speech in Parliament on Tuesday, Erdogan said that the T-129 would hopeful be one of Turkey’s “most important export products.” He said: “This program marks that Turkey has progressed from being a helicopter buyer to a producer. ■