a member of the Finmeccanica group won a major Turkish program
worth $2.7 billion to supply Tactical Reconnaissance and Attack
Helicopters for the Turkish Land Forces Command. AgustaWestland
estimates its share of the program to be in excess of Euro 1.2
billion, based on the requirement for 51 A129 helicopters. AgustaWestland
proposed significant industrial benefits for Turkey, involving
several companies including TAI and Aselsan.
The Italian company will co-produce the helicopters with locally
based Turkish Aviation Industry (TAI) which will handle final
assembly. As part of the initial phase, Turkey will buy 31 helicopters,
and will have options for 20 more. About 60 A-129s, most of
them modernized to CBT configuration, are currently operational
with the Italian Army Aviation.
The Turkish model of the Mangusta will be designated T-129.
The A-129 is operated only by the Italian armed forces. However,
China is also known to be developing, with European assistance,
a locally designed gunship known as WZ-10. This helicopter bears
general similarity to the A-129 design. The only other company
shortlisted in the Turkish tender was Denel of South Africa
which produces the Rooivalk, so-far operated only by the South
African armed forces. Franco-German company Eurocopter and Kamov
of Russia were eliminated earlier in the process.
Two years ago a previous contract with Bell, to co-produce
a Turkish version of the AH-1Z Super Cobra failed over price,
technology transfer and licensing issues. This time the Turks
demanded full access to designs, software source codes and mission
systems to be used with the helicopter. Based on a platform
anticipated as a cooperative European program, A-129 was well
fitted for such requirements. The original design, first flown
in 1983 went through two decades of modifications, enhancements
and changes in dynamic, avionics, and weapon systems. The A129
is a multi-role combat helicopter designed for day/night and
adverse weather combat operations. The A129, powered by two
LHTEC T800 turboshaft engines, has a state-of-the-art cockpit
and features a fully digital integrated avionics system which
controls and manages the flight and mission sub-systems. The
Turkish Army considers the Hellfire and Israeli Spike to equip
its new helicopters.