This story was updated Dec. 13, 2021, at 12:03 p.m. EST with information from Turkish Aerospace Industries.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s Caucasus ally Azerbaijan will likely become the second foreign customer of the Hurkus, a Turkish-made basic trainer and light-attack aircraft.
Ismail Demir, Turkey’s chief procurement official and head of the Presidency of Defense Industries, said Dec. 4 that there is strong interest in the Hurkus in Azerbaijan. “We will soon see important developments [about exporting the aircraft to Azerbaijan],” Demir said.
Just a day before Demir’s statement, a Hurkus underwent a flight test in Azerbaijan, according to Turkey’s ambassador to Baku, Cahit Bagci. Azerbaijan’s Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. Ramiz Tahirov, was present for the event.
Earlier this year, Niger became the first foreign customer of the Hurkus.
Turkey’s Directorate of Communications had said Nov. 19 on its website that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke with his counterpart in Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, by phone about bilateral relations. “President Erdoğan stated that the TB2 drones, Hurkus aircraft, and armored vehicles that Niger would procure from Turkey would strengthen its military and security forces,” according to the directorate’s statement.
One procurement source said the Azeri government is interested in acquiring Hurkus’ Hurjet version. The armed trainer Hurjet is a jet engine version of the turboprop Hurkus, Turkey’s first indigenous basic trainer aircraft. Turkish Aerospace Industries launched the Hurjet program in 2018, with a target of having the aircraft’s maiden flight in 2022.
The Hurjet is to have a maximum speed of Mach 1.2 and can fly at a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet. The aircraft’s design is for a maximum payload of 3,000 kilograms, including ammunition, radar technology and a camera.
TAI told Defense News in an email after press time that the Hurjet program is meant to replace aging Northrop Grumman T-38 Talon aircraft currently used by the Turkish Air Force.
Hurkus-C, the armed variant of the base version Hurkus, features locally developed ammunition including CIRIT, TEBER, HGK and LGK. It can also use INS/GPS-guided bombs, conventional bombs, non-guided rockets and machine guns.
The armed Hurkus also features armored body parts, a self-protection system, a data link, laser tacking, an electro-optical and infrared pod, an external fuel tank, and advanced avionics.
With a 1,500-kilogram payload that can be used through seven external hardpoints, the Hurkus-C can perform light-attack and armed reconnaissance missions.
Burak Ege Bekdil is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News, and worked as Ankara bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.