Turkey will buy 109 announce it plans to buy Sikorsky T-70S Black Hawk helicopters as part of the $3.5 billion Turkish Utility Helicopter Program (TUHP) program, announced last week. Accordfing to Sikorsky, the configuration of the T-70 baseline helicopter is based on the S-70i Black Hawk helicopter. The T-70S will be locally built by the state owned Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) company.

The Turks will locally manufacture the new T-70S and will also offer it for export. Turkey is expecting a a market for 600 such helicopters over the next 20 years. Photo: U.S. Army

Turkish defence minister Vecdi Gonul announced the selection following a 21 April meeting by Turkey’s undersecretary of defence industries (SSM). TAI is already producing subsystems for Sikorsky’s S-70 helicopters, and will expand the use of locally sourced produced subsystems for the T-70S, to include landing gears, transmissions, engine components and part of the avionics. The helicopters will be operated by the Air Force, Army and Ministry of Interior. The program is expected to include the production of 20 T-70s for the Army land forces, 11 for the Turkish special forces, and 18 additional helicopters allocated equally to the air force, navy and electronic systems command. The remaining 70 helicopters will be delivered to the Turkish Gendarma (30), the police (20) and forest ministry (20) to be used as firefighting assets. The expected 10-year contract also would call for aftermarket support, including training and maintenance, leveraging Sikorsky’s and Turkey’s existing maintenance infrastructure to provide service and to supply parts and components to customers worldwide.

As part of its contract proposal, Sikorsky committed to invest in expanding the dynamic components manufacturing capability of Alp Aviation, which is 50 percent owned by Sikorsky. Additionally, the industrialization proposal will allow Turkish industry access to the Sikorsky global supply chain including sale of Turkish assembled aircraft to future Sikorsky international customers.

AgustaWestland, the competitor that offered the TUH-149, a version of the new AW149 specially designed for the Turkish requirements lost the tender despite ‘unprecedented level of cooperation’ offered, along with guaranteed technology transfer, with design and manufacturing autonomy.’ said Ugo Rossini, vice president of European activities, AgustaWestland. AgustaWestland said it was committed to carrying on with the development of the AW149, that still has ‘significant market potential’ replacing more than 8,000 ageing helicopters of the same class, expected to be replaced in the next 35 years. In fact, Sikorsky and its new Turkish partners are also eying this market for the new T-70S; according to the agreement with Sikorsky, Turkey will be able to export the T-70S. The Turks are expecting a market for 600 such helicopters over the next 20 years.

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