On Thursday, the preliminary prototype of Turkey’s unmanned and electric version of the T629 helicopter was displayed for the first time.
The T629 attack helicopter, which has been under development by the Turkish Aviation and Space Industry (TAI), was exhibited during a ceremony in which Turkey’s General Directorate of Security also received its first T129 Tactical Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter (ATAK).
The T629 helicopter project has been underway since 2017, and the TAI began assembling the first flight model of the chopper in 2019. It is expected to make its debut soon - this will bring new technologies to the Turkish aerospace sector. It will be unmanned and will have an electric power group.
Although there were no technical details given during the ceremony, it was announced previously that the T629 will weigh 6 tonnes and be equipped with 70 mm unguided missiles and L-UMTAS anti-tank missiles.
During Thursday’s ceremony, TAI’s Chairperson, Temel Kotil, said that they are proud to deliver the T129 ATAK helicopter to the General Directorate of Security.
The upgraded version of the chopper is currently in the inventory of Land Forces Command and the recently delivered helicopter to the General Directorate of Security is the new ATAK Phase-2 configuration. It is equipped with laser and radar warning systems.
Calling the T129 ATAK the best performing helicopter in high altitude, Kotil said that its engine power is not impaired due to temperature or altitude, and can provide efficient service in Turkey and its surrounding geography.
Kotil also stated that two more ATAK helicopters are set to be delivered to the General Directorate of Security in March.
How the choppers will help Turkish security forces
During the ceremony, Mehmet Aktas, head of the General Directorate of Security, said that the directorate was provided for the first time with an armed reconnaissance and tactical surveillance helicopter.
“With the increase in the number and quality of our aircraft that we add to our inventory, we gain more effective and rapid action not only in the fight against terrorism but also in all kinds of police operational activities, especially against narcotic crimes, organised crime organisations, in combating human trafficking and establishing traffic order,” Aktas said.
Ismail Demir, chairperson of the Defense Industries Presidency (SBB), said: “We are proud and happy to come together for the delivery of the helicopter that will add further strength to police forces.”
“The T-129 helicopters delivered to date have played an active role in security forces' operations and that they worked as a force multiplier due to their capabilities,” he added.
Talking about the recent configurations and improvements on ATAK, Demir said that electronic warfare (EW) and countermeasure capabilities reached their maximum level with the Phase-2 configuration.
“Within the scope of the ATAK project, which is a very important milestone in the establishment of the helicopter industry infrastructure in our country, much national equipment and weapons systems are produced domestically.”
Demir also stressed the goal is not only to build platforms but to also domestically develop their subsystems, particularly critical components, and that the TS-1400 engine tailored for helicopters, the development of which is ongoing, is one of the important steps in this regard.
ATAK-2, Hurjet and TF-X National Combat Aircraft
Providing further details about TAI’s other ongoing projects, Kotil said the ATAK-2 helicopter will make its maiden flight in 2023 and the Hurjet, an advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft, is due at the end of 2022.
Another planned to take off in 2023 is the TF-X National Combat Aircraft. It is set to combine the best of a stealth air-superiority fighter with additional ground attack capabilities and an impressive array of sensors, cutting-edge radar, networked drone control and hypersonic missile capacity.