ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s aerospace powerhouse and procurement authorities have agreed on a program to launch a jet-engine version of the country’s first indigenous basic trainer aircraft, the Hurkus.
The turboprop Hurkus has been developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries, which earlier this year set out for the Hurjet, the Hurkus’ jet version.
TAI officials said a decision by the board of directors in August paved the way for the Hurjet’s development program. They estimate a six-month “preliminary architecture phase” for the start of the program.
One TAI official said it was unclear if the Hurjet will have a single engine or a twin engine. “If we decide to [go] for the twin-engine option, we will need to redesign the Hurkus for the jet version,” he said.
The Hurjet is expected to make its maiden flight in 2022. It will have a maximum speed of Mach 1.2 and can fly at a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet. The Hurjet will have a maximum payload of 3,000 kilograms. The Hurjet will replace the aging T-38 aircraft in Turkey’s inventory.
TAI officials say they also want to develop an armed version of the Hurjet for both the Turkish and export markets.
TAI already is working on an armed version of the Hurkus. Under the plan, the company will develop and manufacture 12 Hurkus-C armed trainers with a follow-on option to deliver 12 more.
According to the contract signed between TAI and the country’s procurement office, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, or SSM, the program for the armed trainers will involve maximum-possible locally developed software and hardware, including their design and integration.
Turkish officials have successfully tested the Hurkus-C equipped with L-UMTAS, a laser-guided, long-range, anti-tank missile. L-UMTAS was developed by the state-controlled missile-maker Roketsan primarily to operate from attack helicopters. In 2016, the system was qualified and integrated into the T-129, a Turkish attack helicopter built under license from AgustaWestland.
The aircraft also features other locally developed ammunition including CIRIT, TEBER, HGK and LGK. In addition, it can use INS/GPS-guided bombs, conventional bombs, non-guided rockets and machine guns.
The armed Hurkus 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, according to TAI. With its 1,500-kilogram payload that can be utilized through seven external hard points, the Hurkus-C will perform light-attack and armed-reconnaissance missions.
TAI expects the armed Hurkus to be widely used in Turkey’s increasing counterinsurgency fight against pro-Kurdish and Islamic militants both inside Turkey and across its border with Syria and Iraq.
TAI’s engineers began to design the Hurkus in 2004. For the Hurkus program, TAI signed two contracts with SSM: one for prototype development and the other for serial production. Under a June 2014 serial production contract, TAI will deliver 15 aircraft with a follow-on option for 40 more.
The Hurkus platform features a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turboprop engine that comes with a power rating of 1,600 shaft horsepower and a maximum speed of 574 kph. TAI’s sister company, Tusas Engine Industries, which specializes in engines, is locally developing a turboshaft engine to replace the Pratt & Whitney Canada engine.