|Turkish Army T129 at the 2014 ILA Berlin Air Show at Berlin Schönefeld Airport|
|National origin||Italy / Turkey|
|Manufacturer||Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) / AgustaWestland|
|First flight||28 September 2009|
|Status||In limited service|
|Primary user||Turkish Army|
|Program cost||US$3.2 billion|
|Developed from||Agusta A129 Mangusta|
The TAI/AgustaWestland T129 is an attack helicopter based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta. The T129 was developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), with AgustaWestland as the primary partner. The helicopter is designed for hot and high environments.
The ATAK programme was begun to meet the Turkish Armed Forces' requirements for an attack and tactical reconnaissance helicopter. The T129 is the result of the integration of Turkish developed high-tech avionics and weapon systems onto the combat proven AgustaWestland A129 airframe, with upgraded engines, transmission and rotor blades. It is in use by the Turkish Army, and is being offered to other air forces.
Design and development
The ATAK programme was begun to meet the Turkish Armed Forces' requirements for an attack and tactical reconnaissance helicopter. Turkey announced on 30 March 2007 that it had decided to negotiate with AgustaWestland to co-develop and produce 51 (with 40 options) attack helicopters based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta. Based on the AW129, the helicopter is to be assembled in Turkey by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) as the T-129. A contract was signed on 7 September 2007 worth $1.2 billion. Turkey's attack helicopter project is named "ATAK".
On 22 June 2008, the agreement between TUSAS Aerospace Industries (TAI) and AgustaWestland formally entered into force. Under the agreement, TAI will develop an indigenous mission computer, avionics, weapons systems, self-protection suites and the helmet-mounting cuing systems. Tusaş Engine Industries (TEI) will manufacture the LHTEC CTS800-4N engines under licence. Under the agreement, Turkey has full marketing and intellectual property rights for the T-129 platform; Turkey can export or transfer of the platform to third countries, excluding Italy and the United Kingdom.
The T129 was optimized for hot and high conditions. It has several key improvements over the original A129 inline with the requirements of the Turkish Army. The T129 will carry 12 Roketsan-developed UMTAS anti-tank missiles (Turkish indigenous development similar to Hellfire II). It will use the more powerful LHTEC T800 (CTS800-4) engine.
On 16 July 2007, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK), Meteksan Savunma Sanayii AŞ and Bilkent University formed a consortium for the development of an advanced millimetre wave radar (MILDAR), similar to the Longbow and the IAI/ELTA radars. It is planned that the radar will enter service in mid-2009. The MILDAR project was successfully completed in February 2012.
A media report indicates that one helicopter will be kept by the Turkish Ministry of Defense and used as a test-bed for systems development. The remaining 50 helicopters will be delivered to the Turkish Army. An optional 40 more T129 helicopters will be produced if necessary. These 50 T129s are to be designated T129B.
On 28 September 2009, the T129's maiden flight took placed when P1 prototype flew at AgustaWestland's facilities in Vergiate, Italy.
In November 2010, Turkey ordered an additional nine T129 helicopters to increase its total ordered to 60. These T129s are to meet an urgent operational requirement for the Turkish Army and will be built by TAI for delivery in 2012, one year before the start of delivery the previously ordered 51 helicopters. These T129s are designated T129A, as they lack advanced anti-tank missiles. As a result of project delays, the T129As were to enter service in 2013.
On the 19 March 2010, the first T129 prototype (P1) conducted high altitude hover tests near Verbania, Italy after having completed several successful test flights. During the hover test T129 P1 lost its tail rotor at 15,000 feet. Test pilot Cassioli regained enough control to steer away from residential area before crashing. The helicopter's crew escaped without serious injuries.
On 17 August 2011, Turkish Aerospace Industries announced the first successful flight of the T129 prototype "P6", that was produced at its facilities in Ankara, Turkey. The tested prototype was the first of three prototypes to be assembled in Turkey.
In 2013, several media resources claimed that the first batch of helicopters delivered to Turkish Army for trials did not meet Turkish Army requirements in "vibration, balance, weight", and did not fit the requirements of the contract. The T129 ATAK helicopter was nose-heavy; to resolve this, 137 kg was added to the tail, which caused helicopter to exceed its weight requirement. The higher weight may cause a decrease in the T129's service ceiling, which is detrimental for hot and high conditions in Southeastern Anatolia. As a result, the SSM will change the contract in order for accordance with the helicopter. Experts expect the weight to be reduced as the helicopter develops.
The Turkish Army formally inducted the first nine T-129s into service in May 2014. The helicopters are EDH version, a less advanced interim variant to replace some AH-1 helicopters before the T-129B variant enters service.
Future and potential operators
According to news reports Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Korea, The Gambia, United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines have shown interest in the T-129.
In 2011, Saudi Arabia asked Turkey to enter a tender to produce attack helicopters for the Saudi Air Force. In July 2012, it was reported that the Philippines received an offer from Italy for AgustaWestland attack helicopters (either A129 or T129).
In January 2013, a media report stated that South Korea's attack helicopter competition included the T129 in the final three bidders with the Bell AH-1Z Viper and the Boeing AH-64 Apache. However, the AH-64E Apache was chosen in April 2013. Media reports in February 2013 indicated Azerbaijan had ordered 60 T-129 helicopters, however it was later denied by TAI. Despite generous financial terms offered by Turkey, Pakistan chose to pursue the Mi-35 Hind.
- T129A EDH (Erken Duhul Helikopteri or Early Delivery Helicopter)
- T129A is the "combat support" version equipped with a 20 mm gatling gun and rounds and can carry 70 mm (2.75 in) rockets; nine T129As have been ordered. Six helicopters have been produced and delivered to the Turkish Army. The T129As are to be upgraded to the T129B standard.
- T129B is the "multi-role" version equipped with the leading edge electronic warfare systems. 51 helicopters are to be produced, with one to be used as a weapons testbed. The T129B is armed with a 20 mm gatling gun and can carry a payload of 8 UMTAS, 12 Roketsan CIRIT, and 2 AIM-92 Stinger missiles.
- Crew: 2: pilot and co-pilot/gunner
- Length: 13.45 m (44 ft 1 in)
- Rotor diameter: 11.90 m (39 ft 0 in)
- Height: 3.4 m (11 ft 2 in)
- Disc area: 111.22 m² (1,197.25 ft²)
- Empty weight: 2,350 kg (=)
- Max. takeoff weight: 5,000 kg (11,023 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × LHTEC CTS800-4A turboshaft, 1,014 kW (1,361 shp) each
- Rotor systems: 5 blades on main rotor
- Maximum speed: 278 km/h (151 knots, 174 mph)
- Cruise speed: 269 km/h (145 knots, 167 mph)
- Range: 561 km (303 nmi, 341 mi)
- Ferry range: 1,000 km (540 nmi, 620 mi)
- Service ceiling: 6,096 m (20,000 ft)
- Rate of climb: 14.0 m/s (2,750 ft/min)
- Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) three-barrel gatling-type cannon (500 rounds)
- Rockets: 4 pods with
- 38× 81 mm (3.19 in) unguided rockets or
- 76× 70 mm (2.75 in) unguided rockets or
- 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine gun pod
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
- Turkey inducts EDH-standard T129 attack helicopters - Flightglobal.com, 1 May 2014
- 2010 Annual Report, p. 46, Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (Turkish) Retrieved 28 July 2011
- "T129 Attack Helicopter". Army-Technology. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- "Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopter Procurement Program". Turkey Undersecretariat for Defence Industries
- "Turkey Announces the Start of Contract Negotiations With AgustaWestland for the ATAK Project". AgustaWestland, 31 March 2007.
- "Turkey Finally Lands Its Attack Helicopters". Defense Industry Daily, 28 March 2012.
- Ozbek, Tolga. "AgustaWestland 129 to be model for Turkish ATAK". Flight International, 14 September 2007.
- T-129 ATAK page. Turkish Aerospace Industries
- (Turkish) "ATAK Helikopter Projesi'nde mutlu son". Milliyet, 22 June 2008.
- Verification on T-129 and modifications
- Defense Technology International, September 2007. p. 46., Aviation Week.
- TEI News 2010, p. 7, Tusaş Engine Industries, Inc.
- T129 ATAK Multirole Combat Helicopter. TAI
- Kara Hedef Angajmanı İçin Milimetrik Dalga Radar Teknikleri Geliştirilmesi Projesi Sözleşmesi İmza Töreni, 16 Temmuz 2007.
- MILDAR (Milimeter Wave Radar) Capabilities. meteksansavunma.com.tr
- "MILDAR Projesi Süresinde ve Bütçesi İçinde Başarı ile Tamamlandı". Meteksan. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Savunma ve Havacılık (Defence and Aerospace) magazine. Issue no: 122. October 2007. pp. 26-28.
- "ATAK team flies first T129 prototype". Flight Global.
- "Turkey Orders Nine More T129 Helicopters For The Land Forces Command". AgustaWestland, 8 November 2010.
- Hoyle, Craig. "Turkey signs for more T129 attack helicopters ". Flight International, 9 November 2010.
- "Seeking Top Role in Turkey". Defense News, 29 November 2010, p. 26.
- PICTURE: Turkey's first T129 attack helicopter crashes
- ASN Wikibase Occurrence #73522, Aviation Safety Network, 21 March 2010.
- . TAI press release
- "T-129 not meeting requirements, requirements are changing". Kokpit.aero, 22 February 2013.
- Two Turkish-made ATAK T-129 combat helicopters deployed for the first time in operation - Airrecognition.com, 4 May 2015
- "Azerbaijan to buy Turkish military helicopters"
- "Turkey wants to offer TAI T-129 attack helicopter to Pakistan". October 15, 2013.
- "Korea-Turkey Procurement Imbalance"
- "Turkey Presses Ahead with its Attack Helicopter Project". jamestown.org, 29 September 2009.
- Cohen, Michael and James Hardy. "Philippine air chief says Italy will provide attack helicopters" Jane's Information Group, 20 July 2012.
- HaberTurk, "Atak in news". Haberturk, 30 January 2013.
- Song, Sang-ho (17 April 2013). "Seoul to Purchase 36 Apache Helicopters". Korea Herald.
- "TAI refutes reports that Azerbaijan ordered 60 T-129 ATAK helicopters". APA.az, 4 February 2013.
- Pakistan Wins Approval To Purchase Mi-35 Helo - Defensenews.com, 13 November 2014
- Libya; TAI offers T.129 attack helicopter, Hurkus-B - Dmilt.com, 10 January 2014
- "Turkey close to receiving first interim T129 attack helicopters". Flight International, 3 April 2012.
- T129 Technical Data. AgustaWestland.
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