To boost Turkey’s naval intelligence capabilities, military and procurement authorities here have launched a new program for the co-production of unmanned helicopters.
Officials with the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) said the procurement office likely will release requests for proposals before the end of the year.
“The competition will be open to foreign bidders, but they will have to agree to work with a Turkish prime contractor,” one official said.
Industry sources said the local prime contractor most likely will be Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). Last December, TAI’s first unmanned helicopter prototype, the Sivrisinek, made successful test flights equipped with the Cirit, an indigenous rocket developed by Turkish missile maker Roketsan.
The co-production program will involve an initial batch of up to 30 unmanned helicopters.
Procurement officials said the initial specification for the unmanned platform is a range of 180 kilometers and a flight time of up to 10 hours. In its first test, the Sivrisinek flew for an hour and a half.
According to planned contract specifications, the helicopters must be able to perform vertical takeoffs and landings since they will operate from ships.
Initially, the unmanned helicopters will be deployed on a landing platform dock that Turkey plans to purchase. Later, they will be operated on Turkish corvettes and frigates.