In tandem of signing a U.S. $270 million parts manufacturing agreement with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Sikorsky transferred a S-70i Black Hawk (International) utility helicopter Aselsan, Turkey’s leading defence electronics manufacturer and supplier.
In its press release, Sikorsky states that the S-70i will be a prototype for integrating and testing Aselsan’s avionics suite – the Integrated Modular Avionics System (IMAS).
The IMAS suite comprises of “powerful smart displays, point-and-click functionality to speed input of pilot commands, and ergonomic enhancements to the Pilot Vehicle Interface that will reduce pilot workload.”
The IMAS was collaboratively developed by Aselsan, Sikorsky, TAI and Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) pilots “to meet the requirements of Turkish T-70 operators and other potential customers.” Sikorsky believes that IMAS will be available for use in time for initial T-70 deliveries, which are scheduled for 2021.
Turkey signed a $3.5 billion agreement with Sikorsky for the procurement and licensed manufacturing of 109 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters. Not only will TAI and TEI manufacture the Black Hawk and its T-700-GE-701 turboshaft engines, respectively, but TAI will also have the right to export its platform (i.e. T-70) to third-party users. TAI will also produce parts for Sikorsky’s global Black Hawk supply chain.
Notes & Comments:
Sikorsky is currently aiming to secure the U.S. Air Force’s bid for a UH-1N successor. The proposed HH-60 is essentially the UH-60M, but with an electro-optical sensor and rescue hoist. Given the Black Hawk’s vast scale and adoption – especially within the U.S. – Sikorsky’s submission is compelling on its cost, familiarity and performance merits. Granted, the latter will need to be examined against the Boeing-Leonardo MH-139 and other potential entrants.
The Aselsan IMAS appears to be the standard baseline avionics suite of the TAI T-70. However, considering the extent of Aselsan’s product catalogue, it is possible that specialized variants of the T-70 – analogous to the MH-60 – could emerge in the future, featuring forward-looking infrared (FLIR) pods (e.g. Aselsan CATS), weapons and integrated electronic warfare and electronic countermeasure suites (e.g. HEWS).
Besides providing the TSK with many mission capabilities, the Turkish industry will be relatively well-positioned to offer compelling Black Hawk-based solutions to the export market.