Indigenously made helicopter ATAK joins Turkish military
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Turkey’s first attack helicopter ATAK has joined the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). Co-producers Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) and Italy’s AgustaWestland delivered three ATAK helicopters with a ceremony held June 10.Turkey’s first locally co-manufactured assault helicopter ATAK has been delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) during a ceremony at the Turkish Army Air Defense Command in the capital Ankara.
Three ATAK, T-129 attack helicopters, which were co-produced by Italy’s AgustaWestland and the Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI), joined the army’s inventory June 10 in a ceremony attended by President Abdullah Gül, parliamentary speaker Cemil Çiçek and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Gül celebrated all contributors at the delivery ceremony. “This shows the level that the Turkish defense industry has reached, especially in helicopter making,” he said.
Local engineers at TAI have completed production of nine helicopters since signing a contract with AugustaWestland in 2007 and five more helicopters are still being worked on. The contract comprised of the design and production of 59 helicopters worth around a total of $3.3 billion.
Designed in two types with close air support and multi-task mission features, ATAK can undertake high-altitude missions with heavy artillery.
Equipped with at least 76 rockets for close air support and advanced electronic war armaments, ATAK will use “Mızrak” anti-tank missiles and laser guided missile system called “Cirit” that have also been locally produced.
Addressing his party members in the morning, Prime Minister Erdoğan said ATAK will “hopefully” be one of Turkey’s most important exports. “With the project Turkey transforms from a helicopter buyer to helicopter producer,” he said later at the ceremony. The country is currently having talks with two countries to sell its first ATAK helicopters.
Turkey has been lobbying to sell the T-129 to Pakistan to replace its aging AH-1F fleet and is prepared to agree to generous terms with Pakistan to do so.