Turkey’s first indigenous helicopter engine, that will power the T-625 Gökbey utility helicopter and the ATAK combat chopper will be delivered to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for integration this year.
Gökbey’s engine will be delivered to TAI this year, Varank said, adding, “They will start working on the integration of the engine to be used in Gökbey after this delivery.”
In September 2018, T-625 rotorcraft powered by two CTS-800-4A turboshaft engines made its maiden flight. Certification trials of the T-625 began last October. Deliveries are scheduled to begin next year.
The T129 ATAK gunship, built by TAI under license from the Italian-British company AgustaWestland, also uses the CTS-800-4A engine.
Earlier, it was equipped with two LHTEC T800-4As built by Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC), a joint venture between Rolls-Royce and Honeywell. Each engine can produce 1,014 kilowatts of output power. The T800-4A is an export version of the CTS800 engine, which Turkey selected to power Turkish Light Utility Helicopter (TLUH) in 2015.
US Embargoed On Honeywell’s Engines
The US is said to be holding up export permits for the LHTEC T800-4A citing the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regulatory regime.
Pakistan ordered 30 T129s for $1.5 billion in 2018. Deliveries were being hit due to non-availability of LHTEC engines. “Apparently we shall need US export licenses to go ahead with the T129 deal (with Pakistan). This is not a technological or financial matter but is purely political at the moment,” a senior procurement official told DefenseNews in 2018.
“This is a commercial deal with a country that has friendly relations with America. Why should the Americans punish Pakistan for their disagreements with Turkey?” a Turkish defense official was quoted as saying by the report.
Ukrainian Ivchenko-Progress Comes To Aid TAI
On February 2019 Turkey announced the completion of the turboshaft engine development project TS1400.
According to a secret policy paper obtained by Nordic Monitor, Ivchenko-Progress offered a 50-50 partnership for designing the aviation engine during which each party would develop separate modules. In accordance with the proposal, the companies would meet regularly to review technical modalities and reports, and technical design pictures of the engine would be exchanged following the completion of the project.
Ivchenko-Progress has been involved in the design of engines to power aircraft and helicopters of various types for over 68 years, along with drivers and special equipment for industrial application. The company is currently administered the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and the Ministry of Industrial Policy.
The Turkish Armed Forces Foundation (Türk Silahlı Kuvvetlerini Güçlendirme Vakfı, or TAFF) document, dated May 26, 2016 and titled “Strategic Planning and Coordination,” revealed that Ivchenko-Progress had agreed to assume full responsibility for the project in the event of a 50-50 partnership and to conduct a technical review of the TEI engine module, but the company did not agree to share its laboratories/workplaces with the Turkish engineers due to relevant Ukrainian regulations.
Ivchenko-Progress declined TEI’s project proposals for partnership models instead of providing the training of Turkish engineers and the designation of technical advisors to the Turkish company.
T129 Exports to Pakistan and Philippines
Ismail Demir, Turkey’s President of Defense Industries (SSB), stated on January 6 that the Pakistan Army extended its delivery timeline for the T129 attack helicopter by one year.
Development of the Turkish TS1400 turboshaft engine began in February 2017, and according Quwa, it was slated for induction and serial production by 2025.
“The pressing need to retire its fleet of old 48 Bell AH-1Fs, is now pushing Islamabad to consider alternatives,” Major General Syed Najeeb Ahmed, commander, army aviation, told Defence IQ’s International Military Helicopter conference in London on 26 February.
With the domestic CTS-800-4A powering both T129 and T625 almost ready, the deal appears to be back on track.
In December 2019, Filipino Defense Secretary Lorenzana announced that the Air Force was mulling ATAK T129 purchase. Their budget for attack helicopters (estimated at $250 million) could afford eight to 10 units of the aircraft. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been singed to pursue negotiations. However, there has been no development since the MoU.
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