Turkey has increased its order for the T129 attack helicopter to 60 aircraft, with prime contractor Turkish Aerospace Industries to deliver nine newly ordered examples by mid-2012.
Worth €150 million ($208 million), the contract extension - signed with AW129 producer AgustaWestland - will equip the Turkish army with a batch of TAI-assembled aircraft one year sooner than previously planned.
AgustaWestland chief executive Giuseppe Orsi says the new deal "confirms how the partnership between AgustaWestland and its partners is able to effectively respond to customer's urgent requirements". Ankara had previously been offered an interim capability using AW129s sourced from the Italian army, as its fleet of Bell AH-1 Cobras has suffered several losses in the last several years.
Despite having suffered a setback when the programme's first prototype crashed in March 2010, AgustaWestland says the T129 remains on schedule, with a critical design review to take place soon. Further prototypes are now being assembled in Italy and Turkey and will enter flight test next January, it adds.
Turkey's T129 will feature locally produced systems, such as avionics equipment developed by Aselsan and Roketsan's UMTAS air-to-surface missile.