The first of the T129s assembled in Turkey has now joined the flight-test program to support the ATAK attack helicopter project. (Photo: TAI)The rotorcraft, designated P6, logged the flight at Turkish Aerospace Industries' (TAI) facility in Ankara.
The Turkish army wants to field an initial batch of T129s — being codeveloped by TAI and AgustaWestland on the AW-129 platform — by mid-2012. In order to maintain operational capabilities, the government has devised a carefully calibrated plan focused initially on so-called early delivery helicopters that will pave the way for the full-up ATAK’s arrival in the second half of 2013.
The program suffered a major setback last year when the first prototype crashed. The P1 air vehicle was a rebuilt AW-129 and is being replaced by P7, an air vehicle fully representing the ATAK configuration.
The P3 prototype has been flying since March; P4, P5, P2 and P7 are to join in subsequent months (the break-in sequence is caused by disparate manufacturers working on different prototype configurations).