Under a serial production contract contract awarded in December 2013 and valued at around $250 million, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is manufacturing 15 HURKUS-B trainers, with an additional 40 options. This is an advanced version of the HURKUS-A and will have a digital cockpit layout along with modern integrated avionics to be supplied by Aselsan, including an HUD, colour multi-function displays a mission computer. First flight is planned for mid-2017 and first delivery for the beginning of 2018. Final delivery under the current contract is scheduled for the end of 2019.
HÜRKUS can be found at the TAI static display at Paris Air Show 2017.
The Turkish Army Aviation has options for 12 armed HÜRKUS Cs, which can work in the light attack/armed reconnaissance role. There is also the possibility the Jandarma will be part of the deal, but it has not been confirmed. The new aircraft will be armed with the Laser-UMTAS long range anti-tank missile and Cirit 2.75in rockets, but will progress to bigger weapons like the TEBER 81 (Mk 82 bomb fitted with a Mubitak SAGE HGK-3 laser guidance kit), TEBER 82 (Mk 81 bomb fitted with HGK-5 laser guidance kit) and machine gun), all by Roketsan.
According to Ozcan Oertem, TAI’s Aircraft Group Vice President, “the advantage for the Army is that the HÜRKUS C will utilise the same weapons as the T-129 ATK helicopter. It can stay airborne for four hours - an endurance you can’t find on a helicopter. The Army is considering them for combat air patrols, fast response team and that’s why there will be an EO/IR turret underneath.” Oertem was interviewed by Alan Warnes at IDEF 2017.
TAI has converted one of the HÜRKUS A development aircraft, into the C prototype – the main difference between the two is a self-protection system and Aselsan cockpit as well as ability to carry weapons. Meanwhile, production is underway at TAI, on the HÜRKUS B new generation basic trainer. Ozcan adds: “This will aid the glass cockpit solution for the C, which has weapons and a self -protection system. The eighth of 15 aircraft on order is now on the jigs. The first example is expected to be powered up by the summer, with flight testing and qualification expected to start by the end of the year. It will lead to the first aircraft delivered to the TurAF in June 2018, with all 15 delivered by June 2019.”
The first three will be used for certification and qualifications, spanning 100 flying hours and the workload can be spread among the three not just to speed up the progress but save the airframe’s life.