This week’s Dubai Airshow was the first time that a UAE Air Tractor AT-802i has been shown in public. The UAE purchased 24 of these highly modified agricultural aircraft, and took delivery of the first in late 2010. Media reports suggest that six of the aircraft are being donated to Jordan but probably with armament capability removed.
Making its public debut at the Dubai Airshow is the Air Tractor AT-802i, an agricultural aircraft heavily modified for counter-insurgency/light attack/ISR missions. The aircraft were purchased by the UAE with a mission system integrated by Iomax, and it is believed that a batch of 24 is nearing the end of delivery after the first arrived at the end of 2010. The U.S.-based company has now migrated the mission system from the Air Tractor AT-802 to the outwardly similar Thrush 510P airframe and launched the aircraft as the ArchAngel at this year’s Paris Air Show.
The Turkish government has tasked Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) with designing and building a home-grown helicopter to replace that country’s aging fleet of Bell UH-1s and for the export market. The deal could rely on a technology transfer from Sikorsky, and it is likely TAI will need to go engine shopping on the international market. TAI hopes to have a prototype flying within three years. Turkey is the world’s ninth-largest helicopter market, and its military estimates a need for up to 800 helicopters in the coming decade.
The international defense industry fair (IDEF 13) held in Istanbul, Turkey, from May 7 to 10 saw the Turkish industry announce a number of developments. The most notable was the revelation of three potential concepts for the TF-X national combat aircraft program, a stealthy aircraft that is ultimately expected to replace the F-16.
For the better part of five years AgustaWestland (AW) had been counting on Turkey to be a major customer for the military variant of its AW139 medium twin, the AW149, for the Turkish utility helicopter program (TUHP).
While it looks forward to accepting its first TAI/AgustaWestland T129 attack helicopter, Turkey is urgently seeking interim helicopter gunships in the face of increased terrorist actions by the PKK and other Kurdish separatist groups. The situation has become desperate as Turkey's current force of Bell AH-1W Cobras has fallen to just six operational aircraft, plus a few earlier single-engine Cobras.
AgustaWestland last week achieved two significant milestones, with the first flights of two new military helicopter designs on consecutive days. First to fly was the AW159 Lynx Wildcat, which lifted off on Thursday at Yeovil in the UK. The aircraft performed “as expected” in general handling checks, according to chief test pilot Donald Maclaine.
The Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTec), a joint venture between Honeywell and Rolls-Royce, has entered into a 10-year agreement with Aerospace Products International under which API will be the exclusive distributor of CTS800 spare parts globally.
Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland’s helicopters address what has become a sweet spot in today’s economy, the medium helicopter segment. And according to AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi, the company is faring well during the worldwide economic downturn.
How is the world economy affecting AgustaWestland?
Although Turkey announced its selection of the AgustaWestland A129 for its tactical reconnaissance and attack helicopter program in March, it took until September 7 to finalize a contract whereby the Anglo-Italian rotorcraft maker will participate in Turkey’s ATAK program in partnership with prime contractor Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI).