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10:17 AM, August 2, 2013
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Turkish procurement officials have given approved development of the country's first indigenous Turkish helicopter in order to replace its aging UH-1s.

The Turkish government signed the contract in June to design, develop and manufacture, according to Defense News.

Under the Indigenous Helicopter Project, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) signed the contract with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for all three phases of the program, officials said.

The program was launched in June 2010, and TAI submitted its bid to be the local prime contractor in October.

TAI’s five-ton, twin-engine “light” helicopter would meet the Turkish military requirements in the medium- and long-run, but also will have a civilian model for the commercial market.

Turkey could eventually buy more than 800 helicopters, and with export, final sales number to grow up to 1,200, according to reports.

In May, Turkey’s procurement officials said they came near to signing a US $3.5 billion contract with Sikorsky Aircraft for the co-production of scores of utility helicopters, but a contract is yet to be announced.

In 2011, Turkey chose Sikorsky as its partner company to lead production of its next-generation utility helicopters. Sikorsky’s T-70, the Turkish version of its S-70 Black Hawk International is selected for the contract.

TAI officials are hoping to fly their own helicopter within five years.

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