By James T. McKenna | June 7, 2016
Turkey's defense ministry has started the clock on the development of more than 100 new utility helicopters over the next decade by signing final agreements with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Sikorsky and three other aerospace contractors in that country.
TAI, which is the prime contractor on the program, said today that, with the agreements signed, the Turkish Utility Helicopter program "has come into effect and the last steps were taken to start the project schedule." The pacts were signed by the industrial partners and the defense ministry's Undersecretariat for Defence Industries.
TAI said Turkey's Defence Industry Executive Committee has valued the program at $3.5 billion.
The undersecretariat signed a contract with TAI and the subcontractors on Feb. 21, 2014, to procure 109 helicopters based on Sikorsky’s S-70i International Black Hawk for use by Turkey's Land Forces, Air Forces, Gendarmerie, National Police and Special Forces Command, as well as its Director of General Forestry.
Sikorsky is to serve as the major subcontractor on the program. The other contractors include the Turkish communications and electronics manufacturer Aselsan and Alp Aviation, a Turkish engineering and manufacturing firm started in 1998 as a joint venture of Alpata Group and Sikorsky. Also serving as a contractor is TUSAS Engine Industries (TEI), a joint venture of TAI, General Electric, the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation and the Turkish Aeronautical Assn.
TAI said it will be responsible for manufacturing, final assembly operations, tests and integrated logistics support of all airframe structures and composite rotor blades.
TEI is to build engines for the new utility helicopter under license from GE.
Aselsan is to develop and integrate basic avionics, the prime contractor said, and will co-develop with Sikorsky an enhanced digital cockpit known as the Integrated Modular Avionics System (IMAS).
Alp Aviation is to carry out production and assembly of landing gear, gearbox and dynamic components.