The heavy presence of Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) throughout the Middle East Theater requires the nation of Turkey, with its growing military industrial base, to invest in tank-killing solutions. As such, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is drawing up plans to produce a follow-up to its T-129 ATAK dedicated two-seat attack helicopter (detailed elsewhere on this site) in the announced T-629 "ATAK-2" project. While the T-129 is billed as a Turkish helicopter product, its roots still lie in the Italian-originated Agusta A129 "Mongoose" attack platform. With the T-629, the company will be able to develop a wholly-Turkish armed attack helicopter to rival designs seen in both East and West - with capabilities akin to the storied Boeing AH-64 "Apache" line of the United States Army.
Preliminary design plans covering a potential attack helicopter for the Turkish Army were first revealed in 2017.
The Army requirement specifically seeks a twin-engine form with these units outputting in the 3,000 horsepower range. Among other specifications include a war load near 2,650lb.
Per TAI marketing, the T-629 will make use of existing components and experienced gained in development of the T-129 attack platform (currently in service with the Turkish Army) and the upcoming T-625 twin-engine medium-lift transport helicopter. Key systems to be carried over include the proven gearbox, rotors, and undercarriage components (the latter of a wheeled "tail-dragger" type).
Based on published renderings, the proposed T-629 will make use of a twin-engine configuration (side-by-side installations) with full IR protection to provide the needed performance power as well as survivability in contested areas. This will be used to drive a five-bladed composite main rotor unit along with a four-bladed tail rotor unit. The main rotor unit will be mounted low against the top of the helicopter while the tail rotor will be facing starboard.
The helicopter will seat its crew of two in tandem (pilot and gunner) through a stepped configuration with full armoring already seen in other modern attack types like the AH-64. Along the sides of the fuselage will be installed wing stubs with three hard points each, these supporting the usual attack helicopter weapon systems such as Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs), gun pods, rocket pods, short-ranged Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs), and (possibly) fuel tanks (the latter for extended operational ranges). The wing tips also appear to host/house special systems to aid the helicopter in search-tracking-engagement actions. Under the "chin" position of the aircraft will be fitted a fully-powered triple-barreled Gatling-style automatic cannon, most likely of 20mm caliber.
Should the T-629 program come to fruition, it will be a considerable step for both Turkish defense industry and the Turkish Army, providing the service with a homegrown solution to an ongoing requirement.
It has been noted by project officials that the homegrown T-629 product will not directly supercede the existing fleet of T-129 ATAK attack helicopters still entering service with the Turkish Army in number but instead operate alongside them in an "armed scouting role" as a one-two punch (in the same way the U.S. Army operates OH-58 "Kiowa Warriors" alongside AH-64 "Apache Longbows").
NOTE: Most specifications on this page are estimates on the part of the author. This article will be updated as new information allows.
May 2019 - A first-flight involving the ATAK-2 is tentatively scheduled for sometime in 2024, leading the way for possible service entry in 2026 following certification and military approval.
June 2020 - TAI has unveiled, via Turkish media, a first mock-up form of its T-629 "ATAK-2" twin-seat, twin-engine dedicated attack helicopter platform.
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