You can read the special coverage published in the 80th Issue of MSI Turkish Defence Review here:
The aerospace industry is an area with great economic potential for Turkey, both with the high added value it creates and its trade volume. With the goal of becoming a global player in the years to come, Turkey has recently made significant advances, especially in the field of defence aerospace, and has been engaged in many platform projects in this regard. Today, however, the local and indigenous development of critical technologies in this field by Turkey is of great importance. TAAC Havacılık Teknolojileri A.Ş. (TAAC) was established as a partnership between Turkish Aerospace and ALTINAY Aerospace and Advanced Technologies (ALTINAY), who sought to fill a huge gap in the flight control system, weapon system and test system market in Turkey.
Combining ALTINAY’s expertise in this field with the power of Turkish Aerospace, TAAC was founded to develop sophisticated test systems, particularly the nationally critical primary and secondary flight control actuators; special weapon racks used for the safe transportation and drop of air-to-land and air-to-air munition by aerial platforms; and flight control test systems, with Turkish engineering. Under the coordination of Turkish Aerospace, as the backbone of Turkey’s aerospace ventures, and with ALTINAY’s many years of experience developing the necessary capabilities and know-how for the development of motion control and test systems, TAAC was able to quickly launch its product and system development activities. The indigenous development of these systems, which are currently procured at high costs and with many difficulties due to problems related to export licenses, will be an important step in the great leap planned to be made in the sector.
Great Leap in the Field of Test Systems
Turkish Aerospace is continuing its efforts in the development of the HÜRJET platform, which will meet the Jet Training and Light Attack Aircraft needs of the Turkish Air Force and the air forces of friendly and allied nations. For the testing of HÜRJET’s flight control system, the development of the “HÜRJET Iron Bird Test System” has been launched, and has now reached the Preliminary Design Review phase. The Iron Bird Test System, for which a contract has been signed by TAAC for the delivery of a turnkey solution, will be used to measure the adequacy of the flight control system by applying in real time the environmental impacts and failure scenarios to which the aircraft will be exposed under all manoeuvre conditions through test systems to be installed in a laboratory environment.
The system can be run with instant inputs on simulated flights as well as based on pre-defined scenarios. It will be used to apply manoeuvre loads to all control surfaces of aircraft through loading mechanisms, and will be measuring the responses of the flight control system under such loads. The test system, which is incorporated with a real-time recording feature, will be vital for detecting pre-flight critical safety errors, and allows for retrospective error analyses. Surprises in the air will thus be prevented by the system, given its ability to recreate any fault scenarios that may occur during flight due to software and hardware malfunctions.
The Iron Bird Test System will be customisable for complex aerial platforms, and its development by Turkish engineers will thus eliminate a significant source of foreign dependency. The maintenance, repair and updating of the test system in Turkey, which should be provided throughout the entire product life cycle of the aerial platform, will ensure the system is kept up and running at all times, in a cost-effective way. The garnered know-how will serve as an important step in meeting the needs of Turkish platforms, including the National Combat Aircraft (TF-X).
TAAC’s goal is to become a global player in the flight control test systems market with the Iron Bird-like systems it will develop.
Foreign Dependency in Motion Control Technologies to be Eliminated
Motion Control Technologies, together with engines, are the most critical systems in all aerial platforms. Since the in-flight manoeuvrability of all air platforms, whether they are aircraft, helicopters or UAVs, is controlled by primary and secondary flight control actuators, these systems must be highly reliable. As there are many potential risks in the supply and maintenance of the systems that have been imported to date, TAAC’s principal vision targets the indigenisation of hydraulic, electromechanical and pneumatic flight control actuators.
In order to support Turkey’s road map in the development of air platforms, the TAAC strategic road map has been created, and in line with this, many projects for the development of servo-hydraulic primary and secondary actuators for fixed wing aerial platforms, as well as main and tail rotor actuators for helicopters, have been launched, along with projects for the various electromechanical and hydraulic secondary control actuators (landing gear opening and closing actuators, brake actuators, steering actuators, airbrakes, steering pedals, etc.). The actuators will be designed as rotating or linear type, and with redundant architecture. Qualification and certification studies will also be carried out locally.
In addition to the servo valves and direct drive valves that are at the heart of all hydraulic systems, Fast-Release Solenoid Valves (FRSV) with very special designs will also be developed by TAAC so that export license restrictions can be avoided in the provision of these critical components. Since the number of companies developing such systems in compliance with aerospace standards is very low around the world, considerable export potential is expected.
Weapon Systems to be Indigenous
In recent years, Turkey has gained the ability to develop almost all of its air-to-land and air-to-air munition through indigenous means. In addition to the challenges faced in the adaptation of these systems to the various kinds of manned and unmanned platforms in the inventory, difficulties may also be experienced in the supply of critical weapon systems required to support the use of these munitions in the platforms to be developed. The weapon transport systems that are referred to as “Rack” in literature permit the safe carriage of munition during any flight manoeuvre, and to drop them from the aircraft with pneumatic, pyrotechnic or electromechanical propulsion systems when required.
Prior to establishment of TAAC, the engineering team has already developed Turkey’s first Pneumatic Quad Rack System for Miniature Bomb Project, and all qualification tests related to the system have been completed. With the local development of multiple racks and the utilisation of this know-how and experience, critical rack systems such as pylons and all associated components will be procured in a more cost-effective way. Today, there are only four countries in the world with the necessary capabilities to manufacture such equipment as ERUs (Ejector Release Unit), Pressurised Tubes, FRSVs, Thermal Jackets and Arming Units, for which development are currently going on. When all these works are completed, Turkey will become the fifth country to join this league.
Ecosystem for Global Competition
The leading aerospace countries in the world host ecosystems of both large and small companies operating in various fields of expertise, who work in an integrated manner with the major platform and system manufacturers. In countries such as the United States, France, Germany, Russia and Italy, many companies operating in dozens of fields, ranging from production to material technologies, and from motion control to power systems, strive to overcome the challenging engineering problems and to ensure system sustainably.
Summarising this new joint venture’s vision in the field of aerospace, Enis ATA, General Manager of TAAC, said: “The aerospace sector maintains its existence with high-quality projects that are long-term, efficient and free of errors. As TAAC, we act with the motivation to support the leading companies in the sector, especially Turkish Aerospace, thus contributing to the important building blocks of this ecosystem. Based on this goal, we attach great importance to collaborating not only with prime contractors, but also with our subcontractors in the establishment of the ecosystem. We act with the awareness of our responsibility to coordinate and guide our stakeholders in every field, from production to design, and from qualification to analysis. The Turkish aerospace sector has gained great momentum after many years, and is taking action to close the gap with the rest of the world. We sincerely believe that this process will be irrevocably successful, and we strive to contribute with all our means.”