ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish government will set up a new company to design an indigenous engine for a locally made Turkish helicopter in the making, according to a top procurement official.

Ismail Demir, head of the procurement office Undersecretary for Defence Industries, or SSM, said the new company will take over the work to design a helicopter engine from Tusas Engine Industries, or TEI, a Turkish government-controlled partnership with General Electric.

"We proposed joint development [of the helicopter engine] to GE. They agreed, but then put forward restrictions. We wanted to share the copyright, but they wanted it for themselves. Now we’ll build our own engine," Demir said.

TEI already has a helicopter design unit. That unit, Demir said, will now be transferred to the new company.

TEI’s general manager, Mahmut Aksit, estimates basic work to develop the planned engine at about two years. "A prototype can be built in four and a half years and certification would take another one and a half years. I expect it would take seven to 10 years to complete development and to commercialize the engine," he said.

Temel Kotil, general manager of TEI's sister company Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI, said the industry pledged to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to develop and build the first 100 percent of Turkish helicopter engines quicker than that.

Separately, TEI also is developing a 170-horsepower engine to power the Anka, Turkey's first indigenous drone. The planned engine, cheap and light, according to Aksit, could be used in both the Anka and its armed version. The engine will allow the Anka to fly at a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet.

In January, TAI completed the construction of the first prototype of what will become the country's first indigenous helicopter.

The twin-engine light helicopter will have dual civilian and military use. It will have two pilot seats and carry 12 passengers.

The indigenous helicopter, the T-625, showcased at the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul from May 9-12, will replace the ageing UH-1Hs in the Turkish military's inventory.

The future versions of the T-625 will include ambulance and search-and-rescue models. The T-625s also will be used to train pilots.

TAI officials say the T-625 will go through its first field tests in the first half of 2018. Its maiden flight has been scheduled for Sept. 6, 2018. The next step in the program is to obtain international certification for the platform.

Burak Ege Bekdil was the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.

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