Turkish police is using T129B ATAKs-report
Turkish police forces started operating the home produced T129B ATAK helicopters before the Turkish military and gendarmerie forces, developed by the Turkish Aerospace Industries, the War Zone reported on Friday.
T129 ATAK is based on Leonardo’s A129 Mangusta which was originally designed and produced by the Italian company Agusta, it said.
The T129 ATAK has been developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries in cooperation with the successor Anglo-Italian company AgustaWestland for the Turkish Army and potential customers.
The first delivery to the Turkish Police involved aircraft serial number EM-101 and was confirmed on Twitter on Feb 17 by Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.
“We are proudly including the first of our attack helicopters, which we will receive by the end of 2022, in the fleet of our Aviation Department,” said Turkish Police Chief Mehmet Aktaş.
While the Turkish Police has been flying helicopters for at least 40 years, the addition of tandem two-seat attack helicopters to the service is a significant development, Aktaş added.
It is nevertheless hard to see how these attack helicopters armed with a multi-barrel 20mm cannon and guided and unguided rockets would be used in daily crime-fighting.
However, local media reports revealed that they will actually be used in counter-terrorism operations alongside those of the army and gendarmerie as part of a “change in mission concept,” the War Zone said, citing Turkish state-run Anadolu agency.
The ATAK helicopters will be used in southern provinces such as Diyarbakır, Van, Şırnak, and Hakkari where Turkish security forces operations targeting Kurdish militants are most intense.
The ATAK can launch offensive operations over Turkish territory and provide close air support to law-enforcement forces and troops on the ground, it said.
The police are already involved in these types of missions, as part of joint operations with branches of the military.
Furthermore, the police ATAKs are expected to be utilized for border security in the mainly mountainous terrain of southeast Anatolia, it added.
The introduction of the ATAK with the Turkish Police further increases the presence of the helicopter in Turkey, with at least 50 examples delivered to the army and 24 reportedly on order for the Gendarmerie, the Warzone said.
In terms of export orders, however, the ATAK has been less successful. The type was offered unsuccessfully to Pakistan, while the Philippines apparently selected the type as its favored attack helicopter candidate but is yet to sign a deal.
However, export sales of the T129 require U.S. approval, the Warzone added.