The first batch of the six Turkish-made T129 “ATAK” attack helicopters will arrive in December. The six T129 attack helicopters will be acquired for a total contract price of USD269,388,862 (about PHP12.9 billion) from the Turkish Aerospace Industries through a government-to-government mode of procurement under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana signed the contract for the acquisition of the Turkish attack helicopters in July last year. The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is looking to acquire dedicated but affordable attack helicopters to beef up its fleet of lightly-armed helicopters, such as the MG-520 and AW-109E, which are being used for counter-terror and ground support missions.
The TAI/AgustaWestland T129 ATAK is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta platform. The T129 was developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) with partner AgustaWestland. The helicopter is designed for advanced attack and reconnaissance missions in hot and high environments and rough geography in both day and night conditions. The T129 is the result of the integration of Turkish-developed avionics, airframe modifications, and weapon systems onto the AgustaWestland A129 airframe, with upgraded engines, transmission and rotor blades. It is in use by the Turkish Army and other services including the Turkish Gendarmerie.
The T129 ATAK helicopter also equipped with advanced electronic warfare and countermeasure systems which increase survival capability in the battlefield. The T129 ATAK can be used in the anti-armour, armed reconnaissance, ground attack, escort, asymmetrical, fire support and short range anti-aircraft roles. The T129 ATAK is equipped with a 20 mm three-barrel rotary cannon in a nose turret with 500 ammunitions capacity and up to 76 unguided 70mm rockets for close air support. The helicopter is also equipped with up to 8 UMTAS 160 mm long range anti-tank missiles, 16 CIRIT 70 mm missiles, 8 air launched Stinger short range air-to-air missiles. The electronic warfare and countermeasure systems of the helicopter features Radar Warning Receiver System (RIAS), Radar Frequency Mixer System (RFKS) and Laser Receiver System (LIAS).
The T129 ATAK is optimized for “hot and high conditions”, performance requirements against challenging geographical and environmental conditions in night and day operations. It has several key improvements over the original A129 inline with the requirements of the Turkish Army. The T129 ATAK helicopter equipped with Hunter Kaska integrated control system specially designed for the helicopter. The system enables the automatic orientation of target detection and weapons systems to the pilot’s line of sight with its high tracking accuracy. The helicopter also equipped with a dedicated electro-optical FLIR system ASELFLIR-300T for multi-purpose missions manufactured by Turkish company Aselsan.