Turkish Aerospace’s newest twin-engine Aksungur version of its Anka unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is expected to be integrated with the domestically-developed PD170 powerplant by the end of 2019, as the company rapidly powers through the development of the indigenous medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft.
Showcased for the first time at the IDEF’19 exhibition taking place in Istanbul, Aksungur carried out a first flight of just over 4 hours on March 20 powered by a German-developed engine, followed by a 3-hour flight on April 3, both of which were testing the flight characteristics and automatic takeoff and landing capability of the air vehicle, which carried no payload.
The company is now expecting to continue flight trials throughout the year, ahead of integrating and certifying the TEI PD170 engine into the twin-boom aircraft by the year-end. This indigenous engine integration will be a progressive step towards the design becoming less reliant on foreign technologies, and there are plans to further develop this capability, as an engine modification for Aksungur with an increased level of power is being proposed by TEI for the UAV, although this has not yet been contracted.
In the meantime, the PD170 is currently being tested onboard the Anka-S single-engined version of the UAV, and will also be qualified for this variant by the end of 2019, which will make this configuration more Turkish by design. The engine first flew in Anka-S on December 27 last year.
The PD170 has a maximum continuous power output of 170 hp, while the new planned version will be able to reach a rating of 222 hp, according to TEI, meeting the power demands of the newer and more power-demanding UAV. The new version of the UAV is not yet on contract, a company spokesperson told AIN, noting that Turkish Aerospace knows the market and recognizes that it was worthwhile internally funding the development of the twin-engine design. Test flights will continue throughout this year, ahead of expected field trials with potential customers in 2020, he said, and weapons will also be integrated onto Aksungur in the last quarter of 2019.
It is expected that the twin-engine design will have an endurance of 40 hours when carrying an electro-optical payload only, while this will drop to 12 hours when carrying the full 750-kg (1,650-pound) payload capacity that can include an array of weaponry and sensors, including radar and sonobuoys. Turkish Aerospace is targeting an altitude limit of 40,000 feet for Aksungur, and this version will utilise the same ground control station as other Anka models.
Aksungur builds on Anka's -B, -I, and -S models that have been developed for Turkish forces, of which five, five, and 10 have been delivered, respectively. “These numbers are changing day-by-day as requirements continue to change,” the spokesperson added.
Despite a number of reported potential export sales for Anka—Indonesia in particular is a target market for Turkish Aerospace—it is yet to be contracted by an overseas customer for any of the versions. Turkish Aerospace is “very close” to securing a deal, the representative said, noting that the company is working through export licence issues with sub-systems found onboard as they occur.