Turkish Aerospace Industries has signed a memorandum of understanding with EADS company Cassidian to become a part of its Talarion unmanned air system project.
Ankara has long been interested in participating in the European programme for a next-generation medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS, and its undersecretary of defence industries has now agreed to make a significant investment in the prototype phase. A team of Turkish companies led by TAI will participate in the effort, it was announced during the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul.
"Cassidian is very pleased and honoured to welcome TAI as part of the Talarion team," said Cassidian Air Systems chief executive Bernhard Gerwert. "With this industrial commitment we strongly believe that the potential customers will decide soon to support this unique product."
Talarion has been proposed to fulfil the future intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements of France, Germany and Spain, with Turkey long cited as a potential additional partner. The system is designed to meet a range of military and civilian mission requirements, including border protection and anti-piracy tasks to be flown in civil airspace.
"We look forward to the progress of this programme, which offers the highest performance of its class, incorporating the most modern modular sensor suite and data links," said TAI general manager Muharrem Dortkasli.
Cassidian earlier this year requested an investment of €300 million ($424 million) to build a prototype of its Talarion system. With first flight scheduled for 2014, the company has established a so-called "plateau" phase, which currently involves around 160 engineers from main suppliers in France, Germany, Spain and Turkey.