Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the engine that powers the AW139 helicopter. The helo has a Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s first indigenous helicopter, the T625, made its maiden flight — hovering for a few minutes a little bit above ground level.
Built by Tusaş Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the T625 is a dual purpose (civilian and military) utility platform suitable for search and rescue, ambulance, VIP, transport and fire extinguishing missions in addition to standard military utility purposes.
Turkey says it designed the T625 locally, though industry sources note that the platform has strong resemblance to the AW139, made by the Italian-British AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Leonardo.
The T625 is powered by LHTEC, but Tusas’s sister company, Tusaş Turkish Engine Industries (TEI), presently is working on a program to build an engine to power the T625.
TAI also produces the helicopter gunship T129 ATAK under license from AgustaWestland. In addition it has been producing fuselage and other parts for the AW139.
“Export markets will be crucial for the future of the T625 program,” said one TAI official. “We are primarily looking at Middle East and Asian markets.”
The T625 program took off in September 2013 under a contract between TAI and Turkey’s defense procurement agency, then named Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, now Defense Industries Presidency.
TAI officials say they plan serial production of the helicopter in the early 2020s. But aerospace officials say certification of the helicopter itself may take about five years.