The Turkish national aerospace firm, Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), has successfully completed the pre-design work on the country’s first native utility helicopter.

Built as part of a design, development, and manufacturing contract signed last year, the new helicopter will replace the country’s old UH-1s. It could also be deployed to meet the army’s helicopter training requirements.

TAI’s general manager, Muharrem Dortkasli, was cited by Defence News as saying the helicopter will be in the Turkish inventory by 2023, the Turkish republic’s centennial.

"We expect considerable [foreign] demand for our helicopter," Dortkasli said.

The 5t, twin-engine, light helicopter, which is anticipated to commence flight trials in five years, would attain its civilian aviation certificate in six years, while its military variant would receive its aviation certificate in seven-and-a-half years.

With eventual plans to procure over 800 helicopters, Turkey’s exports final sales numbers are anticipated to reach nearly 1,200.

TAI is also the prime local contractor of a $3.5 billion programme, under which aircraft maker Sikorsky, will co-build 109 utility helicopters intended for the Turkish military.

With the deal signed in March, Turkey also intends to use expertise and technology transfers from the Sikorsky-led programme in its native helicopter effort.

In 2011, Sikorsky Aircraft was selected by Turkey to lead the production of the nation’s future-generation utility helicopters.

This article was first published on the Strategic Defence Intelligence website. For more information, please click here.