ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish procurement officials say the country will replace its aging fleet of T-38 trainers with the Hurjet, an armed trainer jet developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries.
The officials said the Hurjets will replace a fleet of 70 T-38s built between 1961 and 1972. The Hurjet is a jet engine version of the turboprop Hurkus, Turkey’s first indigenous basic trainer aircraft.
“Production [of the Hurjet] will not be limited to a batch of 70,” said an official with Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI. “Market studies have shown strong export prospects.”
The Turkish military is planning to use the Hurjet for training and for close-air support missions with the country’s F-16 fighters.
“The Hurjet would be a strategic asset in our anti-terror warfare,” an Air Force officer said.
Turkey’s military has been fighting Kurdish militants in the country’s southeast as well as in neighboring Syria and Iraq. The fighting has claimed more than 40,000 lives since 1984.
TAI’s board gave the official go-ahead for the Hurjet program in August. The company has since been working on the architectural phase.
“We are hoping to have Hurjet’s maiden flight in 2022,” the TAI official said.
In addition to asymmetrical warfare, Turkey’s military is planning to use the Hurjet in border security missions.
The Hurjet 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, including ammunition, radar and camera.
Turkish officials have successfully tested the Hurkus-C, an armed version of the Hurkus family, 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 the Italian-British AgustaWestland.
The aircraft also features other 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 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 a 1,500-kilogram payload that can be utilized through seven external hardpoints, the Hurkus-C will perform light-attack and armed reconnaissance missions.
TAI’s engineers began to design the Hurkus in 2004. For the Hurkus program, TAI signed two contracts with Turkey’s procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries: 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.
Burak Ege Bekdil is the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.