Home Air Turkey delivers first T-129 ATAK helicopters to the Philippines

Turkey delivers first T-129 ATAK helicopters to the Philippines

PAF T-129 attack helicopter
Photo: Philippine Air Force

The Philippine Air Force has welcomed its first two T-129 ATAK helicopters, becoming the first foreign operator of the Turkish-built attack helicopter.

Following a series of delays, the helicopters arrived at Clark Air Base, Mabalacat City, in the early morning hours of March 9 onboard a Turkish Air Force A400M transport aircraft.

The Philippines bought a total of six helicopters from Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) through a government-to-government agreement that had a reported value of $269.4 million.

While the official contract between Turkey and the Philippines was signed in July 2020, Tukey received the United States approval to export the helicopter in May 2021. The US approval was one of the reasons the delivery of the helicopters was delayed.

Turkey required an approval from the US as the locally-developed helicopter uses the T800 turboshaft engine manufactured by LHTEC, a joint venture between Rolls-Royce and Honeywell.

In May last year, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) said it had secured the US approval for the sale of a total of six helicopters to the Philippines. It is worth noting that the company reportedly failed to secure export permits for a 30-unit deal with Pakistan, which led to Pakistan’s cancellation of the purchase earlier this year.

Delivered in cooperation with AgustaWestland, the T-129 is equipped with a 20mm turreted gun, and can carry up to 76 70mm rockets. For multipurpose missions, it can carry 16 CIRIT 70mm laser guided air-to-ground missiles, 8 UMTAS long range anti-tank missiles and 8 STINGER air-to-air missiles.

TAI has so far delivered over 60 of the helicopters to Turkish Armed Forces, and the Gendarmerie General Command, a branch of the armed forces which takes up policing duties to ensure internal security and border integrity. The company has also been contracted to start development of a fully indigenous ATAK-2 heavy class attack helicopter project that would have twice the take-off weight of the current helicopter. The project is expected to achieve first flight in 2024.