16 April 2012 Beth Stevenson in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Turkish manufacturer TAI is advancing its HALE UAV design in an effort to replace the air force's Israeli UAV due to political tension between the two countries.
Speaking to Shephard at DSA 2012 in Kuala Lumpur on 16 April, Serdar Olez, VP of UAS for the company said the Turkish Air Force had a requirement for the Anka UAV in order to replace the Heron UAVs that it is currently operating.
'All manufacture and design activity is developed nationally,' Olez explained. 'We used to get parts from Israel, but not any more. It's a must that Turkey has an indigenous UAV.
'Turkey has sensitivity in the Southern region and UAVs are a real necessity in this combat.'
As for the operation of the Heron, Olez said there is a problem in so far as the logistics that would usually be done by the manufacturer now have to be done in Turkey.
The Anka programme began officially in 2005, and manufacture began in 2009, and an RfP from the air force was for ten platforms to replace the ten Herons, for which TAI was the only tender.
'We are now running the flight line of the programme, and have today flown 35 flights,' Olez continued.
'There are a few months to go on flight testing and we hope to deliver to the air force by June/July. We are currently negotiating the price with them. We hope to sign a serial order production by the mid part of this year.'
Other countries of interest include Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan, and Olez confirmed that TAI has responded to RfPs from these nations, as well as Thailand: 'In this region we have also spoken to Thailand; they released an RfP.'
Olez said that the 30,000ft altitude capability of the Anka makes it a suitable platform for maritime operations, particularly of interest to the Asia-Pacific region, which has a dependence on maritime trade.
The platform has the same engine as the General Atomics-ASI Gray Eagle UAV, the Centurion II developed by German company Thielert.
'This is already a proven engine in UAVs, and we wanted to use a heavy fuel engine because there is an advantage for this in Turkey especially, because we have access to the fuel.'
The company's Simsek target is also due to embark on its maiden flight in June/July, and TAI is hoping to market this 'early next year.
'We are talking with the our air force not to sell it, but to service it,' Olez explained.
TAI is also converting the Mosquito manned helicopter into the unmanned R-iHA platform: 'We converted it into a UAV and now it's capable of carrying hundreds of kilos of payload.
'The test flights are going very well. By the end of the year we will complete autonomous take off and landing. We are also negotiating with the Turkish Navy for a bigger VTOL platform,' he concluded.