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TAI sees growth of interest in T129, Anka UAV
February 22, 2018
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T129 ATAK attack helicopter. Photo source: TAI

TAI sees growth of interest in T129, Anka UAV

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is looking to build upon the interest its products, most notably the T129 attack helicopter and Anka unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), at the 2018 Singapore Air Show.

TAI Vice President for Corporate Marketing and Communications, Tamer Ozmen, told journalists that the company is nearing a signature on a prospective sale of 30 T129s to Pakistan. He also stated that TAI is in “advanced discussions” for selling the T129 to Bangladesh, Philippines and Thailand.

Regarding Pakistan, Ozmen confirmed that the T129 was selected due to its performance in hot-and-high conditions. In August 2017, another TAI official said that the T129 possessed competitive life-cycle costs.

TAI is now embarking on expanding its business activities to other markets, especially in Southeast Asia.

Bangladesh has emerged as a market of interest. Dhaka is reportedly interested in the T129 and Anka UAV – a request-for-proposals has already been released for medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAVs.

In January, TAI signed an agreement with PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) to support the latter’s MALE UAV program. PTDI has proposed a stopgap – ahead of an indigenous platform – based on the TAI Anka. Prior to the UAV agreement, TAI also agreed to provide support for the PTDI N219 utility aircraft.

With a stated requirement for 23 new attack helicopters, the Philippines has also emerged as a potential T129 buyer. Being a AW159 operator, the T129 would make for a natural fit for the Philippines as it would enable for engine commonality between two different platforms.

Thailand also has a requirement for new attack helicopters, with the T129 being in contention. Thailand, like Pakistan, is also a customer of big-ticket Chinese weapons, such as conventional submarines. Through the T129 and Anka, Turkey could find itself providing for a niche in close air support (CAS) weapons.

  • Salman

    Big big mistake and waste of ever reducing scarce resources if pakistani buys this useless over priced junk

    Over a billion dollars of waste ! Funds that can be used elsewhere in the defence systems development

    Iran and saudi arabia have spent under 500 million dollars to develop a transport aircraft domestically with ukrainian assistance

    Jf17 development budget of 500 million dollars

    And pakistan is close to signing 1.5 billion dollars (3 times jf17 development budget) to buy 30 helicopters

    Such a stupid wasteful decision

    • آصف اقبال

      It’s not just that bit. They are going to provide some local manufacturing offsets. And God knows how much Pakistan needs a valid manufacturing partner for it’s helos. It’s really lagging a lot behind in this field.

      I for one think this is an excellent deal. And will pave the way for next heavy and utility helo manufacturing with Turkey. At least one platform will remain stable because Turkey R&D is phenomenal.

      • U

        I too have always had the same concerns as Salman about this deal. Only time will tell if these ” local manufacturing offsets” are worth it, or is it just brotherly countries having an affair.

        1.5 billion $ for 30 Helis ! which are smaller and less capable than even AH-1Z, to face off Indian armored might?

        Only time will tell.

      • Salman

        I am sorry but where does the idea that turkisk R & D is phenomonal come from?

        Turkey has a poor R&D record. Almost all of their systems are foreign TOT.Mostly Raytheon. Even the targeting pod sold to PAF was a TOT from Danish manufacturer. Electro optics and electronics are all american. Even the few radars they make are amrrican and german. Their stand off missile or glide platform is with american input

        The t129 engine is imported (subject to restrictions) and who knows how many main sub sysyems are imported.

        So the altimeter is turkish. Big deal !

        Only because they have been part of nato does not mean they have some great R&D

        All these plans for new systems development in turkey show that a turkish company has been contracted to develop but if you read more it will be clear that major systems are frm foreign partners like mtu, bae, raytheon, etc

        As a interim solution, pakistan is better off to clone the cobra with a ukrainian engine , gearbox and rotors and some other upgrades. Than to buy this waste

        • Mike

          Can you provide us with some links? Since you speak so confident about it? Or we will have to accept all of it as BS. Germany and US dont even provide turkey with guidence kits or small arms. Let alone TOT. Germany fkr example de nies turksy tank upgrades since a decade. America didnt want to sell turkey even armed drones, why turkey produced its own. Germany denied upgrade changes on the G3 even, thats why kirikale and Mkek developed the G3! And the SOM was solely developed by Tübitak and Roketsan/Aselsan you aee confusing it with the SOM-J which is codeveloped, the SOM was so good that the amedicans wanted a modified version their F35! The SOM is already complete the SOM J is still in development stage. The only TOT turkey got so far was from its closest friend korea (T155, Altay project assistence) and Italy under Silvio Berlosconi, who was Erdogans best friend. He organzised TOT with Augusta to Turkey. Before that turkey tried it with America, but they denied any form TOT to turkey. Turkey asked then for just a bit, but they still rejected it. So wtf are you talking about!? Germany and the US never agreed on any important TOT so far! Germany didnt even sell turkey stuff for a decade let alone provide TOT. Aselsan had to even do their own leopard NG upgrade program (which nears completion). When turkey started Anka UAV production the US blocked the sale of their Laser targeting kits, to sabotage Anka program. Aselsan worked 6 mounth to replace it and succeeded. After that the US offered turkey the Kit for just a 1/4 of its earlier price ! The truth its almost all components and subssystem wers developed in turkey. You are just full of BS. Like the one guy who said ASELPOD is israeli technoly transfer. Lmao! ASELSPOS has nothing in common with US or Israeli targeting pods its even supperioir in its capabilities (data sheet) than cureent gen pods from israel like the LITENING III !Aselsan is even wirking in the public sector on wind turbines and train modernization and a own high speed train,which is expected in 2020.
          Just some of the over 650 R&D projects in turkey
          https://youtube.com/watch?v=2xzJFvHNA74
          https://youtube.com/watch?t=214s&v=WywgAcIq7HU
          https://youtube.com/watch?v=8_x-8V3v3JE
          https://youtube.com/watch?v=PPcrpvFVt6E

          • Mohammad Bin Farrukh

            Calm down brother. Lets not bicker or fight among ourselves. Lets be honest and practical for once.T-129 attack helicopter is a pot pourri of western subsystems with only a few subsystems locally designed or developed in Turkey. Rest all are imported. Having said that, to what extent Turkey would be able to help Pakistan with technology transfer and to what extent it in turn will help Pakistan become self sufficient in producing state of the art equipment in the near future remains a big question. Not to mention that Turkey’s recent political and military moves risk deteriorating its ties with the west and the NATO further. That could jeopardise Turkey’s access to a lot of critical sub systems it uses on board the T-129. Also there is no shame in accepting the fact that Turkey is still far way off from achieving the defense production standards of countries like US, France, China, Russia, UK or even Israel. It still heavily relies on foreign scientists (hired brain) to successfully achieve the western technological standards in its defense equipment. For example out of nearly 200 engineers working on Altay’s new engine some 70 are foreign. https://www.defensenews.com/industry/techwatch/2018/02/06/bmc-charged-with-developing-turkish-tank-engine-but-it-plans-to-surpass-expectations/
            But Turkey indeed is taking determined and ambitious steps towards self reliance and indigenisation of defense products even with a meagre defense of just $16 billion dollars…which is commendable.
            Second, a T-129 was shot down today by YPG fighters using AAA fire. Turkey’s loss at the hands of ill-trained militia, given turks’ limited involvement in the war so far is staggering. Don’t you think it raises serious doubts about Turkey’s training standards or the quality of defense equipment they are using? For example Russia has been involved in a far more intense battle and for longer duration than Turkey in Syria. But even Russia’s losses were not so high in such a short period of time.
            Something is better than nothing! And that is why i believe involvement with Turkey is important coz that is the best deal Pakistan can get for now. Pakistan needs to start somewhere and what better way to start by collaborating with Turkey.

        • Shaikh Wazir Ahmed

          Turkey is not yet in a position to develop and build the important body and electronic parts of a sophisticated helicopter like T129. But, people should not criticize it, because it has built up the capacity to produce the smaller parts and is assembling the entire heli in its own plant. So, if the helicopter functions well, and the Turkish company is able to provide repairing services, the other countries should encourage it by buying the T129. A time will certainly come when Turkey will be able to build the important parts as well.

    • TZK

      I always wondered where on the battlefield with contested airspace one would use an attack helicopter. Our point of reference in relation to an attack helicopter has always been the Gulf wars were there was no contested airspace. Since then they have been used primarily in coin operations again with uncontested airspace. Would these attack helicopters be sent to check enemy armour in a contested airspace or would you send jets. Attack helicopters in my view should be seen as a luxury item when forces such as those of USA know they will get air superiority. In Europe there are forests where these copters could hide from air attacks to ambush tanks but in open plan ground with contested air space one should always go for the jets to gain air superiority first-in my view.

      • Joseph

        T129 did not even survive in uncontested airspace.

        I don’t think YPG has aircraft or SAM, maybe not even MANPADS, because we don’t see any rocket like things other than from T129 in the video (posted below).

        Also according to the YPG equipment listing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Protection_Units#Equipment YPG has tanks, mortars, grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles and machine guns, but no anti aircraft guns or missiles. Basically no air defense at all.

        So T129 was operating in an uncontested airspace.

        From the sound of the video we can hear gun shot (or grenade) sounds, T129 was likely shot down by some sort of guns, or grenades (According to equipment list YPG has several types of grenade launchers), or T129 simply malfunctioned.

        But in any case this does not look good for T129. It might not fit for COIN operations.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyzWIRXlT6k

        • TZK

          If it was shot down by small arms fire then two questions, firstly tactics being used involve repeatedly flying very low over buildings which is risky as insurgents can be hiding inside and open fire which is what probably happened. Secondly, why the armour protection failed, most likely it was not designed to withstand take a hit at short distant from a high calibre sniper or anti-materiel rifle. Do not forget both sides trained by USA.

          • Joseph

            The first question raised the level of training and coordination of Turkish army. If I know YPG hardly had any air defense surely Turkish military intelligence knew better. Base on the weapons available to YPG, I think they just need to fly 1 or 2 kilometers above ground most of YPG weapons won’t even be able to reach T129. With the sensors and radar available to T129, they really did not need to fly that low.

            The second question is more serious, raising doubts about the level of armour and whether there are too many weak spots. But it could be like you said, an experienced sniper with a large caliber sniper rifle shot through the window or one of weak spots of the armour.

            They only sent two T129s and one is down, the loss rate is kind of high. Considering an article I read before about 30 Apache helicopters all got shot up and only one down, and the crew survived. I think in terms of armour T129 and Apache are probably not in the same league.

            Considering Pakistan only bought 30 I think T129 could be too expensive to lose in COIN operations.

          • TZK

            Looking at the design the first thing that grabs the attention is the very large side glass panels even showing part of the instrument dash board and the entire body of the pilot and the co-pilot. The only other attack copter with a similar side glass panels is the Eurocopter tiger. There are so many other week areas on a copter such as the rotors etc. Going within small arm fire range is suicide. The best protected copter is the Mil Mi -24 with titanium armour.

          • Joseph

            T129 after all is only 5 ton class, half of Apache, too light to have effective armours. So armour maybe not even the main focus of the design.

          • TZK

            Kevlar has been used where weight is an issue but obviously if rotor blade catches a shrapnel or a round then control will be lost.

          • Joseph

            I don’t believe helicopters could be downed so easily, armours would be kind of pointless there are such obvious weaknesses. I can see on internet there are some military studies about 23mm rounds hitting rotor blades, but there is no free access of detailed report: https://vtol.org/store/product/survivability-of-composite-main-rotor-blade-due-to-ballistic-damage-on-military-helicopters-11272.cfm

            I think helicopters can probably still fly without half number of blades.

          • TZK

            From the study below it seems that small arm fire accounts for more losses than one would imagine. This paper is probably the most comprehensive study on the subject I have seen – undertaken at QinetiQ, UK.

            https://dspace-erf.nlr.nl/xmlui/bitstream/handle/20.500.11881/338/p017.pdf?sequence=1

          • Joseph

            That is a very informative report, thank you very much. Though as stated in the report after Vietnam war, helicopter design has been improved against small arms, especially attack helicopters. Probability of kill by small arms reduced to around 1% according to figure 5 in the report, but grenade kill is still around 30%. That means that T129 is more likely down by grenade than anything else, since YPG did not seem to have cannons above 20mm. Ranges of grenade launchers are usually around 500 meters so T129 really shouldn’t have flown that low.

            Also the steep performance penalty of armour mentioned in the report and small weight class of T129 probably mean to improve performance parameters T129 was not designed with adequate armour.

          • TZK

            I would have thought for very small arms fire even 1% was high for a dedicated attack helicopter especially if it flew out of range, but it is interesting to note the conclusion about having to fly low to avoid SAM’s which puts it in danger of small arm fire and RPG’s. I am not convinced that YPG have no cannons above 20mm. In the video you can clearly hear single round fire that sounded louder than a typical small round.

          • Joseph

            I thought those were sounds of grenades, but I not familiar enough with guns to tell the difference.

            According to that equipment listing they don’t have guns bigger than 14.5mm, but they have several types of grenade launchers, then again I guess that equipment listing could be obsolete or incomplete.

          • TZK

            You are correct the sound does seem like multiple RPG’s being fired.

    • Mohammad Bin Farrukh

      You are correct brother. Today only YPG militias shot down a turkish T-129 attack helicopter in Hatay province, killing both the turkish pilots.
      https://southfront.org/kurdish-forces-reportedly-shot-down-turkish-t129-atak-attack-helicopter-involved-in-operation-olive-branch/
      http://www.aviationanalysis.net/2018/02/turkish-t129-attack-helicopter-shot-down-afrin.html
      http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-02/10/c_136965346.htm
      This incident raises serious doubts on T-129’s capabilities as YPG/PKK militants are not even well trained or equipped compared to the enemies in our region. Still they are able to inflict heavy damage upon the turks as today they shot down their premier attack helicopter T-129 and two days ago blew a turkish army’s leopard tank into smithereens. It raises serious questions about the defense hardware in use by the turkish forces and also the training standards of the turkish troops. Anyhow i believe T-129 helicopter is simply not fit to survive against advanced SAM and radar capabilities of our hostile neighbor. Pakistan should have saved money and should have bought more numbers of much mroe capable AH-1Z choppers from the US instead.

      • kadet

        The YPG-PKK has already dropped down three AH-1w Super Cobra helicopters with MANPADS (SA-7 Strela and SA-18 Grouse). (18 May 1997-24 February 2008 and 13 May 2016) If you watched the video, there’s no indication that T129 was shot. There were three ATAK in the air at the same time. The T129 are still being used extensively in the AFRİN.
        the first month of 2018, the US government decided to send a $ 500 million weapon to YPG-PKK Earlier, military aid was provided with 3000 trucks and airplanes. (120 Hummer, IAG Guardian armored personnel carrier, US production cougar armored personnel carrier, 12,000 Kalashnikov brand rifles, 6,000 machine guns and heavy machine guns, 3,000 American-made RPG-7 and Thousand American Production AT-4 or Russian-made SPG-9 antitank missiles ) 235 units of mortar, 1000 pieces of the UK, Spain and India, which are manufactured by licensed “Milan” antitank missiles and FGM-148 Javelin tank missile was awarded. 100 units of sniper rifle, 450 PV-7 type night vision binoculars and 150 infrared laser illuminator sent in 2017. These are just known. The YPG-PKK has been training for three years. An army of 60000 people was established.
        The Turkish army is not just fighting terrorists. He is fighting with the great forces behind them. Terrorists are just puppets. You seem to be glad that the helicopter has fallen. Brother, when you comment, I hope you will see the big picture.

  • U

    Pakistan is close to signing a deal for 30 T129, how is it going to work if the US, very likely, stops Engine sales to Pakistan in the current bilateral situation is beyond me!

    • Bell Helicopter executives just said that there is no block on transfers to Pakistan re: the AH-1Z. The issue is squarely to do with aid, and even that seems iffy in that aid transfer is contingent on Mattis’ certifying Pakistan’s actions.

      • U

        Very nice to hear the Bell Heli executives, otherwise I felt the AH-1Z are gone. Can you please provide a link?
        But still the fear of getting ditched by US after spending a lot of money will loom over Pakistan forever, unless Pakistan just stops using US as a critical supplier of any defense items.

        • Black Bird

          Lol, where did you get this silly theory?? We are going through modernization like other countries in Asia. We are inducting UAV, attack heli for the first time while Pakistan is operate these things for a long time. Not confirmed about the attack heli though. Where did you get the news we are buying 8 aircraft and sub just like you ?? I don’t see any news about procurement for new sub yet nor anything about Pakistan buying new F-16. Didn’t US stop giving you military aid?? And if you are talking
          about our twin engine heavy MRCA tender then i have to it’s different than a single engine MMRCA if that what PAF is looking for. And no one is obsessed about Pakistan, it’s just your illusion.

          • U

            “Bell Helicopter did ‘not know’ what impact President Donald Trump’s embargo against Pakistan might have regarding the delivery of Vipers, but production continues unabated for the Pakistan order.”

            Not very satisfying…it just says production is going on and they ‘ do Not know ‘ what effect the embargo might have on delivery. So, the US gov might stop the transfers.

  • sami shahid

    Lol whatever Pakistan wants to buy Bangladesh wants to buy the same. WTH ! We wanted to buy 8 F-16’s and Bangladesh also wanted to buy 8 Fighter air crafts. Now we want to buy Gunship helicopters so Bangladesh also wants it. It should have its own strategy it should stop following us.

    • Bangladesh has an interesting angle. The BN is favouring the Leonardo AW159 and could sign a deal for that. The AW159 uses the same engine platform as the T129, hence going for the T129 would give Bangladesh engine commonality. For Pakistan, these T129 sales to other countries could be interesting as that could lead to PAC contributing parts and services for Turkey and third-party buyers.

      • sami shahid

        I won’t disagree with you as your point is valid but what I believe is that their obsession with Pakistan and their big brother India won’t allow Bangladesh to buy services from Pakistan. Lol when we want to buy UCAV then they want a UCAV and when we want sub marines then they also want a sub marine.

      • Salman

        Bilal,
        What parts do you think pakistan can contribute except for low value low tech metal panels? Pakistan does not make engines, gearboxes for heli, rotors, shafts, radar for helis, canopy, etc. Imo nothing significant to contribute.

        For $1.5 billion, pakistan will have the aizaaz of making the door panel for t129

        Its is like suzuki production line in pk. Local production is door panels and odometer and lights . Engine, gearbox shaft, wheel shocks etc are all imported

        This is a “panic” buy by pakistan. People have been sleeping for the past 17 years since al khalid 1 . No new investment in armour and anti armour.
        Now that india is splashing on armour and has fully adopted the cold start doctrine, and america has stopped the $1 billion order for helis, the authorties as panicking. But this buy is not the solution. Once $1.5 billion is spent on this, then people will start complaining that the civilian govt does not give funding for defence etc.

        Indias integrated battle groups will knock these few 30 helis spread over 2 provinces or fronts without much difficulty. Such low numbers and expensive helis will have zero effect

        This is blind wastage

  • Jigsaw

    I as a Pakistani would request you to take his comment as his very personal opinion as i’m sure whatever BD is pursuing is in its own interest. There will always be someone like him in any country trying to “represent” it with their strange theories. Ignore it.

  • Mohammad Bin Farrukh

    We will be allowed to buy any defense equipment from the US as far as we can afford it and make the full payment from our own pockets. Infact US never cancelled the plan to sell 8 F-16s to Pakistan. They merely cancelled the US funding of approx $300 million which was supposed to come from the US government. In the absence of US subsidy, the deal proved too costly for Pakistan to afford in full so it had to be cancelled. FYI, US has not imposed any arms embargo on Pakistan. Infact the 2 swift ship corvettes and the AH-1Z helicopters would be delivered to us on time even after intense back and forth mud-slinging and allegations between political leadership of the two countries. Moreover its not like Pakistan is asking the US for F-35 5th gen fighters. Pakistan is asking for a legacy yet effective platform which would only help it in COIN operations and which is quite capable in conventional roles as well. Given US’ recent push to increase its arms sale across the globe, i don’t see why they should refuse us AH-1Z helicopters if we ask them for it and are willing to pay the full price for it. 10 more AH-1Z helicopters from US would have been better than 20 T-129 helicopters i feel. The decision to buy turkish attack helicopters was done solely with the intent to give US a message that we are not dependant on you and have other options (friends) as well…even though the equipment may be sub-par.

    • TZK

      I think we have covered at great length on Quwa Pak’s relationship with USA and each time the conclusion has been that in the short term it may give Pak some measure of defence but in the longer term there will be a cost for Pak. Personally I think Pak does not need copters and should spend any defence budget they have on new fighter jets such as SU-35 if they can get them or J10 / J11.

  • Syed Hasan

    Bilal currently in 2018 are there 100 jf-17s aircrafts active in PAF in 2018 or 100+ because 50 block 1s are completed,last year 16 new block 2s were added making number to 36, so this year have only 14 new block 2 jets been added which is even lesser than last year’s 16 or are there 100+ units because 14 aircraft of block 2 this year would make the total 50 which was the milestone to be achieved so are the remaining jets are ‘B’ version or only 14 new jets have been added?

    • The 100th JF-17 – i.e. the 50th Block-2 – rolled-out at the end of 2017. In 2018, PAC will roll-out another 14 Block-2 (i.e. totaling 116 JF-17 in the PAF by end of the year). These 14 jets will be Block-2 (not JF-17B).

      • Syed Hasan

        why??
        the milestone was of 50 so why not twin-seater(B) version now is it because ‘B’ is still not ready yet? or are they now upgrading 50 block-1 to block-2 standard?

        • They’ve begun a pilot overhaul program for the Block-Is, but I don’t know if it’ll also include an upgrade to Block-II. As for the JF-17B, it’s still undergoing tests and, given the changes it brings (e.g. three-axis FBW system), it’ll be a while out before it’s ready for serial production (has to undergo prototype tests, then small batch production/SBP with SBP tests before serial production).

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