Hurkus - Turkish Primary and Basic Training Aircraft
Manufactured by the TAI, the Hürkus (Free Bird) is broadly similar in concept to the Textron AT-6B Wolverine and the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano. The aircraft is named after Vecihi Hürkus, a Turkish aviation pioneer and the first Turkish airplane manufacturer. The aircraft can fly up to a speed of 574 kilometers an hour. It has a maximum stall speed of 143 kilometers an hour in landing configuration. The maximum service ceiling of the jet is 10,577 kilometers. The Hürkus jet can fly at 15,000 feet for a stretch of four hours and 15 minutes and has a 1,600-horsepower engine. The aircraft also has a system for producing oxygen for pilots while flying. The aircraft takes its name from Vecihi Hürkus, one of the first civil aviators of the Turkish republican era.
Development Program contract was signed between the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries and TAI in March 2006. Hürkus, the training plane designed by Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. (TUSAS) was to be added to the inventory by the end of 2015. HÜRKUS with day and night mission capability; instrument flight, navigation and formation training phases were realized. The New Generation Basic Trainer “Hürkus” Development Program was launched in March 2006 upon the contract signed between the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries and TAI. Production of a total of four prototype aircrafts composed of two aircrafts to be used in flight tests and two aircrafts for the structural tests were planned within the scope of the project. As part of the prototype development, production and test activities; the first prototype to be produced was supposed to be the 1st flying prototype, the 2nd prototype would be static aircraft which would tolerate the structural loads, 3rd prototype would be the number 2 flying aircraft and fatigue and damage tests would be performed on the aircraft which would be the 4th prototype. Following the contract signed in 2006, the preliminary design of the aircraft was completed within the 2007 – 2008 timeframe and the critical design review was accomplished in the first quarter of 2009. Upon the completion of the assembly of the aircraft, the “roll-out ceremony” was realized with the participation of the former Prime Minister Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on 27th June 2012 and “Hürkus” made its debut. Prior to its maiden flight, static robustness, cabin pressure and vibration tests were performed on the aircraft for over a year. Under the vision of becoming a "World Brand Aerospace Company" with indigenous products and global competitive power and holding the mission "to lead the development of Turkey's aeropsace industry", TAI aimed to lead Turkey to new horizons in aviation in the 21st century. Being Turkey's center of technology in design, development, modernization, manufacturing, integration and life cycle support of integrated aerospace systems, from fixed and rotary wing air platforms to unmanned aerial vehicle and space systems, Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI), was awarded by EASA with the "Design Organization Certificate" for her Trainer Aircraft "HÜRKUS" in July 2012.
TAI applied EASA in 2007 for Design Organization Certification, which certifies that the aircraft design process was performed within the approved regulations and standards. Since then, TAI has successfully passed all the audits that were performed by the specialists of the European and Turkish Authorities, EASA and SHGM, and was awarded with the privilege to design an aircraft complying with international safety regulations. This authorization is the first of its kind that has been awarded to Turkey. The Certificate confirms that TAI complies with the international standards starting from concept phase to the flight tests till the type certification. All approved regulations and standards will form the basis for TAI's future development programs such as Regional Jet or Fighter Jets.
The assembly and manufacturing of Turkish Primary and Basic Trainer Aircraft "HÜRKUS", which was designed by TAI's engineers to meet the training requirements of Turkish Air Force, was completed and HÜRKUS was rolled out on June 27, 2012 at a ceremony held at TAI's Kazan premises. Many distinguished military and civilian officials, among whom were the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, Cabinet Members, Force Commanders and the family of Vecihi Hürkus honored the ceremony.
Hürkus, the first domestic basic trainer and ground attack aircraft for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), will be put into service in June 2013, Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. (TAI) General Director Muharrem Dörtkasli told the press on 21 March 2013. Dörtkasli said all sorts of tests, including those covering the engine, takeoff, night flight and the fuel system, have been performed and that the Hürkus was almost ready to operate.
Turkish Basic Trainer Aircraft "HÜRKUS" successfully realized its maiden flight on August 29, 2013 at TAI's premises in Ankara, Kazan. HÜRKUS Flight Test process kicked off with the permission of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The flight test period will be completed with the Type Certificate* which will be issued after completion of the test both by DGCA and EASA. Following the engine start at 07:30 am, HÜRKUS, which took off at 07:35 am, completed its maiden flight with gears extended. During the flight, HÜRKUS climbed 9500 ft and completed with the control of flight surfaces. HÜRKUS has successfully landed after a 33-minute test flight.
As of June 2015, a total of 200 sorties were accomplished by 2 prototypes. The critical phase for the “Hürkus” which continued its test flights uninterruptedly, with 2 prototypes throughout the remainder of the year, would be starting in January 2016. The first of the abnormal flight conditions known as spin that is a very important and critical stage at the flight-test process and safe recovery tests were performed at TAI facilities on 20 January 2016. The spin tests, a challenging process during which the aircraft was deliberately removed from the normal flight conditions by the test pilot and put into abnormal flight conditions and in which the techniques for safe recovery were identified, were performed.
The Turkish New Generation Trainer Aircraft “Hürkus-A” accomplished EASA Flight Test on 22-25 March 2016 at the TAI facilities. A European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) flight-test pilot and a flight test engineer completed a total of six sorties for certification compliance with the “Hürkus” prototypes HUR01 and HUR02. Tests consisted of the verification of the general flight and handling characteristics of the aircraft’s stability and control, of its stall; spin; maneuvers and aerobatic capability, its navigation and night flying capability, the man-machine interface, the emergency procedures and the overall system characteristics. The EASA’s test flight pilot and engineer found the aircraft compatible for certification.
TAI launched the serial production of Hürkus-B aircrafts. Two aircraft were already in the manufacturing line and third one was planned. TAI built a line capable of simultaneously manufacturing three aircraft, and had already ordered all the systems of the aircraft. TAI conducted preparations to deliver the first aircraft in June 2018 as per the program schedule. Aselsan had to deliver the related systems, especially the computer with the software so that TAI could operate the systems on the ground in the second half of 2017 and get them ready.
Hurkus-A is the basic version which has been certified with EASA according to CS-23 requirements. It is intended for the civilian market. Hurkus-B is an avanced version with integrated avionics (including HUD, MFDs, and Mission Computer). Cockpit avionics layout is similar to F-16 and F-35 fighters.
First flown in January 2018, the B-model trainer is an improvement over the baseline Hurkus A. The Hürkus-B configuration is not structurally different than the “Hürkus-A” development aircraft. It cannot be discovered which one is the A configuration and which is B configuration without seeing their cockpit. All structural parts and components of the aircraft are indigenized. Moreover, the avionic systems of the B configuration are indigenous. As from the Hürkus-A configuration; the lighting and the electrical power distribution systems have been indigenized. Additionaly, in Hürkus B major avionics of the cockpit are indigenous. The Undersecretariat for Defense Industries initiated the indigenization process of the aircraft’s landing gear as well.
Following completion of trials, Hurkus B deliveries were expected to begin in the summer of 2019, at a rate of two to three units per month. Turkey’s indigenous Turkish Aerospace TT32 Hürkus-B trainer began training Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK, Turkish air force) pilots at Çigli in Izmir province on 04 January 2019. The first pair of Hürkus-B aircraft was delivered to the 2nd Main Jet Base Command at Çigli—the THK’s main training base—in late December 2018, and the remainder of the 15 aircraft on order were due to be delivered to the air force in the first half of 2019. Turkey had options for 40 further Hürkus-Bs.
TAI reserved the letter ‘D’ for the maritime. It remains on the table as a suggestion. A guided weaponry system may be integrated to the aircraft. Radars, camera systems, data link could be equipped. Where could Turkey's Naval Forces utilize an aircraft with 1.5 tons of payload capacity? This needs to be discussed in detail. If this is limited only with the Turkish territorial waters, then a fine study comes up. When placing an aircraft such as “Hürkus” to airfields at the coasts, the Navy would be capable of reaching to all borders of Turkey's territorial waters in 15 – 20 minutes distance. Therefore, it could be one of the fastest emergency responses when required.
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