T-time for Turkey helos

While Turkish UAVs are already starting to dominate the market, Turkish Aerospace is hoping that its new helicopters will enjoy similar success in the global rotorcraft marketplace.


Turkish Aerospace is making new ground with its T-925, here on show at the Paris Airshow. Picture: TAI

The TAI T129 ATAK attack helicopter, an improved version of the Italian Agusta A129 Mangusta, has proved extremely successful in Turkish service, and has attracted significant interest on the export market, even if orders have been slower to materialise. The T129 has provided invaluable helicopter manufacturing experience, which has been put to good use in the Turkish Utility Helicopter Programme, under which some 190 Sikorsky S-70i International Blackhawk helicopters will be built locally as the T-70i.

In November 2019, Turkish Aerospace unveiled the first locally assembled T-70i, and the first example (of 109 ordered for Turkish military and para-public operators) was delivered to the Turkish Gendarmerie General Command in December 2022.

A new firefighting variant of the T-70i, named ‘Nefes’ (‘breath’ in Turkish) by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has now been delivered to the Turkish Forestry Directorate (Orman Genel Müdürlüğü) in the country’s southwestern Muğla province. The Nefes is able to drop up to 2.5 tonnes of water and is equipped for search-and-rescue as well as firefighting.

Not content with licence building other people’s designs, Turkish Aerospace has embarked on a number of indigenous designs. Four prototypes of the T625 medium twin have now been flown, and the TAI T929 ATAK 2 twin-engined, heavy attack helicopter made its maiden flight on 28 April 2023.

Another new Turkish Aerospace helicopter under development is the T925, announced on the second day of the 2023 Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, and shown there in mock-up form. The T925 (also known as the general purpose II, and previously known simply as the multirole utility helicopter) is a new heavy utility helicopter previously thought to be intended for the Turkish armed forces. Roles were said to include troop and equipment transport, VIP transport, search and rescue, firefighting, and medical transport.

Early computer-generated images (CGIs) were reminiscent of a twin-engined, scaled down Agusta Westland AW101 Merlin, but the mock-up displayed at Paris was shown in a civil configuration, with a more streamlined nose than previous CGIs, and with no military sensors, defensive aids systems, etc. There will still be military variants, including a navalised T925 with folding rotors and tail and with a corrosion resistant structure.

The helicopter will be powered by a pair of 3,000 shp turboshaft engines, probably supplied by Ukraine’s Motor Sich – if the conflict in Ukraine permits, and will use indigenous composite rotor blades which have already been developed.

The T925 is expected to make its first flight in 2024 and to be delivered from 2026.

Jon Lake

Jon Lake

Jon is defence editor for both Arabian and African Aerospace magazines.