Continuing their attempts to become a more self-sufficient world military power through a growing military-industrial complex, the nation of Turkey welcomes its new, indigenously designed and developed, TAI "Hurkus" to serve as primary and basic trainer for the Turkish Air Force. The aircraft originated from an Air Force requirement for fifteen such platforms to which a development contract was given to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in December of 2006. In April of 2009, the final design was accepted and a prototype went airborne for the first time on August 29th, 2013 - setting the stage for what should be a follow-up procurement phase. The name "Hurkus" is taken from Turkish aviation engineer Vecihi Hurkus (1895-1969), the country's first civilian pilot and a World War 1 (1914-1918) veteran. As of November 2013, the Hurkus is represented by two completed prototype samples which are being used in ongoing testing.
In overall scope, the aircraft will be similar to the American Beechcraft T-6 "Texan II", the Brazilian Embraer EMB 314 "Super Tucano" and the Swiss Pilatus PC-21 series - all competing in the basic trainer/light strike market. The Hurkus will replace the aged fleet of Turkish Air Force T-37 "Tweet" trainers, two-seat, turbojet-powered aircraft brought about in the 1950s. The Air Force has a stock of approximately 65 such aircraft.
Design of the Hurkus is largely conventional with a slim, aerodynamic fuselage tied to low-mounted, forward-set straight monoplane wing appendages. The engine is housed in a forward compartment in the usual way while the empennage utilizes a single vertical tail fin with a pair of low-mounted horizontal planes. All wing surfaces feature clipped tips. The fuselage sports seated for a crew of two under a large, clear canopy shell offering excellent elevated views around the aircraft from both positions. The cockpit includes all-modern avionics and controls to serve as a proper stepping stone for graduation to more advanced flight systems. The aircraft makes use of Martin-Baker Mk T-60 N "Zero-Zero" ejection seats for both crew.
The Hurkus relies on a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68T series turboprop engine delivering 1,600 horsepower to a five-blade aluminum propeller by Hartzell. The combination of airframe design/configuration and powerplant are expected to provide the Hurkus with a maximum speed of 360 miles per hour, a cruising speed nearing 290 miles per hour, a range out to 920 miles and an operating service ceiling of 34,700 feet. Rate-of-climb is 4,300 feet per minute.
TAI is set to deliver the Hurkus in two, possibly three, distinct production forms - Hurkus-A, Hurkus-B and Hurkus-C. Hurkus-A will be the basic civilian airspace variant designed around European Aviation Safety Agency certification. The Hurkus-B will be of a more advanced trainer form featuring HUD (Head-Up Display), a mission computer and weapons-simulating Multi-Function Displays (6"x8" MFDs) at each cockpit. A third, more military-minded, variant is being proposed as the "Hurkus-C". This model would feature support for light armament (gun pods, cannons, bombs, rockets, missiles) to fulfill the light attack/strike/Close-Air Support (CAS) role.
The Hurkus project has not been without its delays. The initial prototype's flight was scheduled for sometime in 2009 and initial deliveries would have followed in 2011. However, the aircraft was not formally displayed until June 2012 and its initial flight did not occur until August of 2013.
It is conceivable that the Hurkus will be offered to interested foreign parties for purchase at some point. it will most certainly serve Turkish aerospace engineering well as a starting point for more advanced indigenous aircraft designs.