2018-12-02

Turkish helicopters pay the price for Ankara's rejection to cooperate with Moscow

by Oleg Moskvin

The United States has punished Turkey for purchase of the S-400 by delaying the supply of engines for the Turkish T-129 attack helicopters. And there are no guarantees that these shipments will take place at all. Turks are forced to hastily look for someone who will re-motorize their military equipment. Maybe Russia could do this? And the most interesting thing is that at the time Ankara had a chance to avoid this situation by buying Russian helicopters.

The supply of three dozen Turkish T-129 ATAK multi-purpose attack helicopters to Pakistan will be delayed by at least six months. The reason is the failure of the United States to supply Turkey with engines for these helicopters in time. Representatives of the Turkish SSM Defense Industry Secretariat told TASS on Friday about problems with Ankara .

According to the source, currently the manufacturer of T-129 - the company Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) - is studying the issue of replacing engines. Probably, ATAK will be equipped with engines of Western European production, but the option of turning to China is also being considered.

“In essence, the sanctions are against the Turkish military-industrial complex,” military expert Vasily Kashin said on Facebook . “We can assume a connection with the C-400 deal, and the first assumption from the Russian side will be like this, but I fully admit that there may be other reasons,” said Vadim Kozyulin, professor at the Academy of Military Sciences, told Vzglyad newspaper.

As the Vzglyad newspaper noted earlier, the Turkish-Russian agreement on the purchase of S-400 Triumph complexes , signed about a year ago , caused tension in relations between Ankara and Washington. Last Thursday, Turkish President’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalyn said : Ankara expects to receive the first C-400 battery by the end of the year. 

At the same time, Kashin noted that at the same time the United States froze the delivery of a consignment of combat helicopters AY-1Z to Pakistan. “Pakistan, as I understand it, is not in the list of states that are prohibited from supplying American weapons, on the one hand. On the other hand, Pakistan now has a complicated relationship with the United States. So it could be more connected with Pakistan itself than with Russia and sanctions against it, ”Kozyulin suggested in turn.

For Pakistan (which is really experiencing not the best period of relations with the United States), the failure of a contract with the Turks is unlikely to be a serious loss. Islamabad can turn to the same Chinese , who are now actively entering the Pakistani arms market. But the Turks, who are interested in selling their products, will have to "spin" and find someone who will help with the re-motorization of helicopters. And among potential suppliers could be not only European countries, but also Russia, and even Ukraine.

Military expert Alexei Leonkov noted in his comment to the Vzglyad newspaper that the T-129 looks very similar to the Mi-24. But not the fact that there is a similarity of engines. Nevertheless, if Russia still decides to tackle this complex task, then, as Leonkov emphasized, it has an engine, which in principle can be an analogue of the American CTS-800, designed for Turkish helicopters.

This is the VK-2500, which is now the main one for installation on helicopters that are in service with the Russian army. This engine produces JSC "Klimov", part of the United Aircraft Building Company. VK-2500 was created as a replacement for TV3-117 engines, which were made at the Ukrainian enterprise Motor-Sich, and now stands on Mi-17, Mi-28, Ka-52, Mi-35 helicopters. "That is, it has become such a universal engine that allows you to solve issues with helicopters," said the source.

True, it should be noted that there are still many differences between the CTS-800 and VK-2500. “Our engine is much more powerful than the American one,” notes Leonkov. However, according to Leonkov, with the help of Russia, it would be more rational for the Turks to change not the engines, but the helicopters. “Just take and change the engine - it means creating a new helicopter, it is even more problematic than changing the aircraft engine,” Leonkov said. - If the gun starts with a projectile, then the helicopter starts with the engine. It is his layout and his power give the helicopter its capabilities. It is clear that replacing the engine will result in alteration of the fuel system, fuel automation, and so on. "

It is worth noting that once Russia even offered its helicopter to Turkey. In 1997, the Russian company Kamov developed the Ka-50-2 Erdogan helicopter, which is essentially an export version of the Ka-52, especially for participation in the Turkish ATAK tender (Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopters - attack and tactical reconnaissance helicopters). However, the Turks then made a choice in favor of the project of the Italian company Agusta Westland and on the basis of its A-129 Mangusta helicopter a Turkish T-129 ATAK was created. For what now, we can say, and paid.

This time in a hypothetical competition for the right to replace the CTS-800, Russia may also have an unexpected competitor - Ukraine. After all, Motor Sich still produces the same TV3-117 engine, which replaced the VK-2500. True, not the fact that Ukraine will pull the Turkish order (if there will be one). “The Ukrainian military industrial complex is gradually collapsing,” notes Leonkov. “Motor Sich is trying, in the person of its director, Vyacheslav Boguslaev, to save the situation, but it is very difficult for him to fight the political nomenklatura.”

There is one more nuance. With whom Turkey does not agree on the supply of power units, it will be extremely difficult to do this, despite the fact that examples of engine re-motorization from one engine to another are known, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov told the Vzglyad newspaper. “The Iranians, for example, at one time remotourized the American plane, the Juaroo fighters in the French F1 Mirage put the MiG-29 engine. Hypothetically, this is possible, but in this particular case it will be difficult to do it, ”he said.

As one of the reasons Pukhov called the need to obtain a license. “The design is made for specific helicopters, and this helicopter is not purely Turkish, but Turkish-Italian. This is actually an Italian license, and this needs to be coordinated with Italian designers, which is practically unrealistic, ”explained the source. “Besides the Turks and Italians, the Pakistanis must agree to this. There are too many sides to this story. Even if the engine were integrated, it is almost impossible, ”the expert concluded.

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