Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) displayed a mock-up of its T625 utility helicopter at the 2017 Paris Air Show, touting the forthcoming aircraft as an attractive option for civilian and military use.
The T625 is a six-ton twin-engine design meant to compete with the Leonardo AW139 and Airbus H175. It will have the capacity to carry 12 passengers. Aselsan is the principal vendor of avionics for the T625.
With the prototype under production, TAI aims to have the T625’s first flight in September 2018, with civil certification in Turkey by the end of 2020.
The T625 will be powered by two Rolls-Royce-Honeywell Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Co. (LHTEC) T800 turboshaft engines, sharing a common powerplant as the T129 ATAK attack helicopter.
TAI began designing the T625 under the designation of ‘Ozgun’, which was changed to ‘T625’ in January. TAI envisages domestic and overseas sales of 300 and 500 T625 helicopters, respectively, over the next 20 to 25 years (Flight Global).
TAI’s executive vice-president for helicopters, Metin Sancar, said (via Flight Global) the T625 could lead to the development of larger TAI helicopters, potentially up to the range of 12 tons, which would be in the realm of the Leonardo AW101 and Russian Helicopters Mil Mi-171.
Critical to this endeavour is TUSAŞ Engine Industries’ (TEI) turboshaft engine program, which was formally initiated via a contract from the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries in February. TEI had been tasked to design and develop a 1,400 shp turboshaft engine for the T625 and T129. The TEI engine is also pegged to power the TAI Hürkuş trainer and light combat aircraft platform.
TEI’s General Manager Mahmut Aksit told Defense News that it would take two years to design the engine, with prototype production complete in “four and a half years.” Aksit expects the engine to come into full fruition in 7-10 years. Until then, TAI will be reliant on the LHTEC platform.
Beside the T625, TAI and TEI are also spearheading the production of Lockheed Martin S-70i Black Hawk helicopters, which are to be produced in Turkey with the T-70 designation.
The Black Hawk was selected for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program, which envisaged a domestic requirement of at least 109 helicopters for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
Like the T129, TAI has export licenses for the T-70, which could see it market the Black Hawk platform to a host of Turkish defence industry customers, such as Pakistan, which is reportedly in negotiations with TAI for 30 T129 ATAK attack helicopters.