Turkey expects to make a decision in its general purpose helicopter contest in June, having increased its cross-service requirement from 78 to 115 aircraft. AgustaWestland and Sikorsky are battling to secure the deal, respectively offering the AW149 and a T-70 derivative of the S-70 Black Hawk.

Ankara's defence industries undersecretariat (SSM) says the selected helicopter will be produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries, with the company to undertake all manufacturing activities beyond the programme's 78th aircraft.

Launched in late 2007, the competition originally sought a maximum of 54 aircraft for the Turkish air force, army and navy, but this total was later expanded as a result of the nation's increased army aviation needs.

AgustaWestland AW149
 © AgustaWestland

The SSM has decided to again increase the project to 115 helicopters, including 20 for the police, 11 for the coastguard and six for the navy. Naval rotorcraft will be delivered with additional equipment above the common standard, and coastguard aircraft may also arrive in this standard.

Turkey has also confirmed its interest in acquiring General Atomics' Predator A/B unmanned aircraft systems. The SSM says six MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers will be requested via the USA's Foreign Military Sales mechanism. The Turkish government has already sent a letter of request to its US counterpart for the equipment, and a letter of agreement is expected to be signed in July.

Meanwhile, Israel Aerospace Industries has delivered the Turkish air force's first two Heron medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air systems to Batman air base. Flight-testing should conclude this month, with the remaining eight air vehicles to be delivered in May.

Source: Flight International