Sikorsky’s Polish subsidiary, PZL Mielec, has delivered the first S-70i prototype for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Programme (TUHP). The event comes two weeks after the Turkish government officially launched the programme to build a Black Hawk-based fleet of multi-role T70 utility helicopters — five years after the T70 was initially selected as the platform for the programme.
Sikorsky accepted the TUHP prototype aircraft from PZL Mielec during a June 22 ceremony attended by senior leaders from the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM), Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Aselsan and Alp Aviation.
The TUHP prototype is the 37th S-70i Black Hawk helicopter built in Poland. Among the modifications that PZL Mielec added to the aircraft were a rescue hoist, internal auxiliary fuel tank, cargo hook, Integrated Vehicle Health Management System, a blade de-icing system, and a rotor brake.
In early 2017, Sikorsky will fly the prototype aircraft to Ankara where it will become the engineering development test bed for a new avionics suite being co-developed by Sikorsky and Turkish defense electronics company Aselsan. The two companies will use the aircraft to integrate, flight test and qualify the avionics suite, which is designed to the preferences of the T70 user community.
Contractual agreements approved by the U.S. and Turkish governments license TAI to build and deliver a total of 300 T70 helicopters (109 baseline + 191 options) to six Turkish agencies: the Land Forces, Air Force, Gendarme, Special Forces, National Police, and the Directorate General of Forestry. Under the current programme schedule, the first Turkish-built T70 aircraft will be certified and qualified for delivery to the Turkish government in 2021.
Over the next two years, PZL will manufacture the first five cabin structures that TAI will assemble onto the first five T70 aircraft. PZL personnel also will provide technical and manufacturing assistance and training to TAI both in Turkey and Poland.