Sikorsky is still yet to sign a contract with Turkey for the license-manufacture of 109 T-70i Black Hawk helicopters, more than two years after the airframe was formally selected for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Programme.
In an instructive example of the pitfalls of doing business with a country that wants to maximise its domestic work-share, negotiations between Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) and Sikorsky for a contract are only now gathering pace.
Sikorsky was originally announced as preferred bidder for the contract with a derivative of the Black Hawk helicopter at the end of April 2011.
However, a MoU setting out the broad terms and conditions of the agreement was only recently signed between the two organisations, and the final terms and conditions are now being resolved.
Speaking to Shephard at the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul, a Sikorsky spokesman said despite the protracted negotiations, the company felt that contract award was ‘close’.
As well as heavily involving Turkish industry in the manufacture of the helicopters for the Turkish military and government agencies, Sikorsky has committed to buying Turkish-produced S-70i helicopters on a ‘one-for-one’ basis for export.
‘The larger issues have been resolved and we are working on the final terms of conditions of the contract,’ the spokesman said on 7 May.
As if to reinforce his optimism, the SSM released a statement the same day stating it ‘intended to finalise the negotiations that will result in a contract award to build Black Hawk utility helicopters in Turkey’.
‘Estimated at $3.5 billion, the total programme value to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), as the prime contractor, is inclusive of work to be performed by Sikorsky and other programme partners,’ the statement said.
Aircraft components such as blades, the cabin and the cockpit will be manufactured and aircraft will be assembled in Turkey by TAI. The avionics suite is being designed by Aselsan; the engine will be manufactured by TEI under the license of GE; while the landing gear and transmission will be manufactured by ALP Aviation, which is 50% owned by Sikorsky.
Under Sikorsky’s original industrial plan for the programme, the Aselsan avionics package, which features four 8×10 inch multi-function displays, a new man-machine interface and modern software architecture, will be the baseline suite for all S-70i aircraft following its certification.
The Aselsan cockpit is not now expected to be ready until 2017-2018, raising questions over whether the project will be delayed further awaiting its integration.