Turkey’s Hürkuş-B Enters Service, Armed Variant Completes Trials

 - January 10, 2019, 4:55 AM
Hürkuş-C is the armed variant, seen here with Roketsan L-UMTAS missiles under the wing. (photo: SSB)

Turkey’s indigenous Turkish Aerospace TT32 Hürkuş-B trainer began training Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK, Turkish air force) pilots at Çiğli in Izmir province on January 4. The first pair of Hürkuş-B aircraft was delivered to the 2nd Main Jet Base Command at Çiğli—the THK’s main training base—in late December, and the remainder of the 15 aircraft currently on order are due to be delivered to the air force in the first half of 2019. Turkey has options for 40 further Hürkuş-Bs.

The type will re-equip 122 Training Squadron, replacing the KAI KT-1T, though initially they are being used by 124 Instructor, Standardisation and Instrument Training Squadron, with Turkish Aerospace pilot Murat Özpala helping the training effort. The THK bought 40 of the broadly similar KT-1Ts from Korea, of which 35 were assembled locally to replace Cessna T-37s.

Development of the Hürkuş, named after Turkey’s first aviator, began in March 2006, and the Turkish Secretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) approved the eight-month conceptual design phase In December 2006. The Hürkuş critical design review was completed in April 2009.

The prototype was rolled out in June 2012, and the Hürkuş aircraft design was certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in July 2012. The aircraft made its maiden flight on 29 August 2013. The Hürkuş-A trainer aircraft was awarded a CS-23 Type Certificate by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and an Aircraft Type Certificate by the Turkish Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in 2016. The Turkish Air Force is procuring the Hürkuş-B, an advanced, slightly lighter variant with integrated avionics, a head-up display and a glass cockpit.

The Hürkuş-C is an armed version, optimized for the close air support, counter insurgency and light attack roles, and due to be procured for the Turkish army and Gendarmerie. The aircraft is broadly similar in concept to the Textron AT-6B Wolverine and the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano, and features an under-fuselage electro-optical turret (probably the Aselsan Common Aperture Targeting System, or CATS) and seven external hardpoints carrying a warload of up to 3,300 lb (1,500 kg).

The Hürkuş-C programme was launched on 28 November 2016, and a prototype was rolled out in February 2017, carrying Roketsan UMTAS anti-tank guided missiles, and Roketsan Cirit laser-guided rockets. One of the Hürkuş-A development aircraft was subsequently shown in the static display at the Paris Air Show in camouflage colors and fitted with a range of weapons and sensors to represent the Hürkuş-C configuration.

On 7 April 2017, the Hürkuş-C prototype aircraft fired a Roketsan L-UMTAS anti-tank missile against a ground target, and on 29 December Turkish Aerospace announced that the type had successfully completed flight and firing trials, culminating in tests of the aircraft’s self-protection systems. Twelve Hürkuş-Cs are currently planned for production and the Turkish Armed Forces have an option for 12 more.

Hürkuş-C fires infrared decoy flares during trials of the aircraft's self-protection suite. (photo: SSB)