New Generation Basic Trainer HÜRKUŞ (Free Bird) Development Program contract was signed between the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries and TAI Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in March 2006. The TAI Hürkuş is a tandem two-seat, low-wing, single-engine, turboprop aircraf with day and night mission capability. The aircraft is named after Vecihi Hürkuş, a World War I and Turkish Independence War veteran pilot, a Turkish aviation pioneer and the first Turkish airplane manufacturer. The Hürkuş will be equipped for day and night flying as well as basic pilot training, instrument flying, navigation training, weapons and formation training.
The TAI Hürkuş aircraft have good visibility from both cockpits with a 50 degree down-view angle from the rear cockpit, cabin pressurization (nominal 4.16 psid), Martin-Baker Mk T-16 N 0/0 ejection seats, an onboard oxygen generation system (OBOGS), an Environmental Control System (Vapor Cycle Cooling), an anti-G system, high shock absorbing landing gear for training missions, and Hands On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS). Microtecnica of Turin, Italy has been selected to provide the aircraft’s environmental control system. The Hürkuş has been designed for a 35-year service life.
530 sorties have been performed with 2 prototype aircraft. During these flights 567 flight hours, 356 knot, 35.500 ft and 6.3 g values have been tested. System functional tests, stability and control checks, emergency procedures, low speed, stall, spin tests, performance tests, air start, aerobatics and operations, high speed and flutter checks have been performed. In 2016, the Hürkuş-A trainer aircraft was awarded a CS-23 Validation Type Certificate by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and an Aircraft Type Certificate by the Turkish Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The Turkish Army has an order for 15 Hürkuş-B aircraft plus an option for 40 more. Deliveries are scheduled for mid 2017. In February 2017, photos were released by the Turkish MoD showing the prototype for armed version, the Hürkuş-C.
Within the framework of the program; two aircraft configurations are being developed.
HÜRKUŞ-A: Basic version which is to be certified with EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) according to CS-23 requirements and an Aircraft Type Certificate by the Turkish Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). It is intended for the civilian market.
HÜRKUŞ-B: Advanced version with integrated avionics (including HUD, MFDs, and Mission Computer). Following the completion of taxi tests, the first aircraft of HÜRKUŞ-A Configuration successfully performed its first flight on August 29, 2013 at TAI’s facilities. Consequent to the flight permission of SHGM (Turkish Civil Aviation General Directorate) and EASA the first flight, which lasted 33 minutes, was performed with open landing gear position at a height of 9500 ft. During the flight, the first checks were performed on control surfaces and a successful landing was realized.
HÜRKUŞ-C: An armed version for the close air support role will have a maximum weapons load of 3,300lb (1,500kg) and also carry a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor. It will be capable of operating from unprepared runways. The Turkish Army has expressed interests in using the aircraft in counter insurgency environments and it is hoped that it will attract export orders. The main advantage will be to lower the cost of air power, especially in low-intensity combat theatres where anti-air warfare threats are minimal. In February 2017, photos were released by the Turkish MoD, showing the Hürkuş-C prototype carrying Roketsan UMTAS anti-tank guided missiles, Roketsan Cirit laser-guided rockets, an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) pod (likely the Aselsan Common Aperture Targeting System or CATS), and external fuel tanks.