T129 Multi-Role Combat Helicopter, Turkey
The T129 is a twin engine multi role attack helicopter being designed and manufactured jointly by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Italy-based AgustaWestland to meet the requirements of Turkish Armed Forces. It is being built based on its predecessor A129 Mangusta platform.
A prototype of the helicopter crashed on 19 March 2010 while executing hover tests. The crash occurred due to loss of power in its tail rotor while flying at an altitude of 1500ft (457m) near Verbania in northern Italy.
T129 attack helicopter design
The T129 is designed to operate even in adverse weather conditions. It can execute a range of missions, including combat, armed reconnaissance, armed escort, deep strike, fire support, precision strike, security and suppression of enemy air defences. It can operate in both day and night conditions.
The aircraft will be fitted with a five-bladed main rotor of 11.9m in diameter, a two-bladed tail rotor, wheeled landing gear, a laser designator, a laser spot tracker, a colour television camera, a multiple target tracking and emergency locator-transmitter.
Development of the A129 to T129
The Turkish Armed Forces awarded a $3bn contract to TAI in March 2007 to buy 51 (plus 40 optional) A129 Mangusta helicopters from AgustaWestland.
TAI will modify and assemble the A129 in Turkey to produce the T129 helicopter.
TUBITAK (Turkish State Research Organization), METEKSAN Savunma Sanayii AS and Bilkent University formed a joint venture in July 2007 to build a modern mm wave radar for T129. The final agreement was signed in September 2007.
The development of the T129 began in July 2008 under the ATAK helicopter programme. The maiden flight of the T129 prototype P1 took place on 28 September 2009 at AgustaWestland's facilities in Vergiate, Italy. The service entry of the helicopter is planned for the third quarter of 2013.
One out of the 51 helicopters being built by TAI will be retained by the Turkish Ministry of Defence for testing and future development. The remaining will be delivered to Turkey in two different configurations TUC-1 (30) and TUC-2 (20).
The TUC-1 will be fitted with native electronic warfare and countermeasures, Aselsan Asel FLIR-300, and foreign missiles. The TUC-2 is additionally fitted with Roketsan UMTAS missiles, and Roketsan Cirit Laser guided 2.75in rockets.
The helicopter can survive in the battlefield through the integration of survivability equipment, which will include countermeasure dispensing systems, a missile warning system, a laser warning system, a radio frequency jammer, a radar warning receiver (RWR), infra-red countermeasures, and a suite central processing system (SCPS).
The T129 will feature a digital cockpit. The cockpit will accommodate two crew members.
The cockpit will have two colour multifunctional displays (MFD), a keyboard display unit, and a night vision helmet mounted display system (HMDS).
A flight data recorder (FDR), mission planning ground station (MPGS), weapon control units (WCU), integrated standby instrument systems, and an air vehicle monitoring system (AVMS) are also installed in the aircraft.
The T-129 will be equipped with an advanced avionics suite which includes a dual avionics central control computer (ACCC), an automatic flight control system (AFCS), an air data computer (ADC), an inertial navigation system (INS), a global positioning system (GPS) and a digital moving map (DMP).
It will also be fitted with a voice encryption system, a data and image transmission system (DITS), and a DAS suite with passive and active countermeasures.
Aselsan was chosen by the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) of Turkey in April 2010 to design and build the Helmet Integrated Cueing System (HICS) along with the electronic unit and software for the T129.
The helicopter will be armed with four hardpoints which can accommodate 1,200kg (300kg each) of payload. It will be fitted with a 20mm three-barrel gatling-type cannon which can fire 500 rounds.
The aircraft will also have 12.7mm gun pods, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) and air-to-air missiles (AAM), 70mm rockets and guided rockets.
The T129 will be powered by two LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engines. Each engine can produce 1,014kW of output power. The T800-4A is an export version of the CTS800 engine.
A full authority digital engine control system will reduce the work load of the pilot by executing autopilot operations.
The length and diameter of the engine are 0.85m and 0.56m respectively. It will weigh around 154kg.
The T129 can climb at a rate of 14m/s. Its maximum cruise speed will be 269km/h. The normal and ferry range of the helicopter will be 561km and 1,000km respectively.
The service ceiling of the helicopter will be 6,096m. Its maximum endurance will be 3 hours.