Delivery of an initial batch of nine T129 ATAK multirole combat helicopters to the Turkish Army by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has now been completed. The Turkish manufacturer announced the milestone on August 17, confirming that the ninth helicopter had been handed over on July 31.
The T129 is a version of the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta, developed by TAI specifically to meet Turkish Army requirements. The nine delivered to date are all of the T129A Erken Duhul Helikopteri (EDH – Early Delivery Helicopter) variant. They are now being used effectively in operational theatres by the TKK, according to TAI.
The first of these EDH versions had been handed over on April 22 last year, after which the first three were formally inducted into service on June 10. They were ordered under a contract announced on November 8, 2010, to fulfil an urgent operational requirement. All nine will later be upgraded to the definitive T129B production variant.
The Turkish Army ordered 51 T129s, under a contract signed on September 7, 2007, which also included 41 options. On November 8, 2010, AgustaWestland announced that nine of the options had been converted into firm orders for the interim T129A EDH version, to enable early delivery to meet an urgent Turkish Army operational requirement. All future deliveries will now be of the T129B production variant.
TAI is now also actively seeking export orders for the T129 and says that it has already seen strong international interest. Alan Warnes