Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has launched a small, armed, unmanned helicopter which it says could prove attractive to Middle Eastern countries as an attractive alternative to the products being produced in Israel.
At the Paris Air Show today the R-IHA – the Turkish acronym for rotary-wing UAS – was launched and Gorkem Bilgi, business development leader at TAI’s integrated helicopter department said the prototype is expected to achieve first flight in mid-2012.
Bilgi told journalists that negotiations are ongoing with several potential customers within Turkey, including the navy, gendarmerie and national police.
TAI launched the R-IHA programme after detecting a gap in the market for an unmanned helicopter between 300kg (660lb) and 500kg, Bilgi said.
The prototype design is listed with an endurance of 4h, a maximum take-off weight of 340kg with a 100kg payload, 10,000ft (3,050m) service ceiling and a top cruise speed of 100kt (185km/h).
The R-IHA joins a UAS portfolio within TAI that includes a medium-altitude long-endurance UAS called the AMKA. The first vehicle achieved first flight in December. Two more vehicles are scheduled for delivery in 2012 to complete an initial order by the Turks.