T129, The best replacement for AH-1
"T129, The best replacement for AH-1"
President & CEO of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI)
" The T129 is a helicopter with the optimal balance between a spear and shield."
It is a mention of President Dortkasli about the T129, who is visiting Korea amid the selection of the AH-X is upcoming. He introduced the T129 that combines the lessons learned over a conflict in the southeastern border over 20 years. TAI is negotiating more flexible offset under condition of DCS and cheaper price comparing to other competitors.
This is an interview with President Dortkasli
Q I've been told that you've visited Korea for offset negotiation. How is it progressing and what is a further schedule?
We are trying to take DARPA's requirement as possible as we can. We are in a negotiation with an emphasis on increasing the domestic production rate for Korean industry and technology transfer. TAI has been closely cooperated with KAI for a long time over the KT-1T Program. Currently Turkish army is introducing the T129. Korean army is also on track for the LAH (Light Attack Helicopter) Program as well as the AH-X. So this will be a good opportunity to enhance cooperation relationship and development of defense industry among two nations.
Q In the competition for the MOH(Maritime Operations Helicopter) Program, AW159 was chosen, which had a higher price competitiveness over the MH-60R, which had been considered the most potent. It was accepted as a surprise, how do you think about the results of the MOH Program?
The meaningful point is that Agustawestland won on DCS term. I think this can be a turning point for further defense programs in Korea.
Q It has been pointed out that the performance of the T129 is inferior to a leading competitor AH-64. What's your view on this?
The AH-64, and T129 is within different categories in terms of a targeting performance. So one-to-one comparison between them is undesirable.
I want to compare the T129 "a warrior with spear and shield". The chopper took the optimal balance between a size for having an affordable payload/performance and light weight design for survivability/self-protection. Having two high performance CTS 800 engines that are co-developed by Honeywell and Rolls-Royce for the U.S Army's cutting-edge RAH-66 Comanche, the T129 can maintain with a same flight performance regardless any altitude up to 18,000ft or any surrounding temperature.
Also its compact size makes the T129 significantly low-observable by vision and radar, low-acoustic, low-heat emitting.
In addition, the CTS 800 engine is basically identical one of the AW159 selected in the MOH program, the T129 has become more advantageous in terms of cost and logistic support.
Q What is the competitiveness of the T129 in the AH-X?
The AH-X considers many factors such as an airframe price, offset, and performance met. Nothing is trifling element of all of this. However, the factor that has the greatest effect on the selection would eventually become "price" including an offset. T129 can have the maximum advantage on that point.
Q What do you think about the benefits in case of that the Korean Army deploy the T129?
As well as South Korea, Turkish Army has been operating AH-1 for a long time, and has involved ongoing conflict in the southeastern region. The AH-1 has brought abundant combat experience and invaluable lessons, and we could get essential things to operate an attack helicopter. So we developed the T129 by complementing all limitations and shortages of the AH-1.
In addition, Turkey has a pretty similar terrain with Korea, meaning similar operation circumstances. Like Turkey, if the Korean Army accept the T129 and then replace them, you can get the potent warrior that has all things you would undergo probable shortages in action.
Q How is status of the T129 progressing in the Turkish Army
It is difficult to mention because its order negotiation is ongoing, but currently the Turkish army is accepting the T129, executing transition training.
Q As Korean Army, Turkey is replacing the AH-1 by the T129. What do you expect to improve mostly in terms of operations performance?
I mentioned before, the T129 with optimal balance between attack and defense. I'd like to put an emphasis on the fact that the T129 has improved situational awareness, target search and track capability through ensuring completely independent visual range of a back seat pilot. Ensuring visibility of back seat pilots is very important than anything else. Its importance is particularly greater in the night operations.
Unlikely a fighter aircraft, most of operations related to an actual flight is up to the back seat pilot. Through many years combat experience, the Turkish army had realized how much important ensuring the viability of the back seat pilot for situational awareness and survivability.
Due to an very old basic design, other competitors does not reflect this on their design, but the T129 has greatly enhanced situational awareness and target search and track capability through the design having fully independent visual range of the rear seat pilot.
Q I learned that other countries in the Middle East and Asian countries are showing interest. What is the business promotion there?
While I do not open an all country list, Pakistan has a plan to acquire the T129, and some Asian countries are knocking the door.