ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the Turkish defense industry will begin producing attack helicopters next year.
Erdogan said mass production of Turkey's indigenous T-129 attack helicopters will begin in 2013 as part of the country's program to expand domestic production of military equipment.
"Today, Turkey meets 54 percent of the needs of the country's defense system," Erdogan said in a report on TRT Haber TV. "Our goal is fully provision with defense products through domestic production."
Erdogan added that Turkey intends to include the manufacturing of warships.
Turkey has previously exported armored vehicles, air defense systems, missile systems, light warships and helicopters, a trend that has seen its defense industry exports quadruple.
Turkish Aerospace Industries is the prime contractor for the T-129 attack helicopter, with Aselsan and AgustaWestland NV as the subcontractors, under a collaboration agreement in which TAI shares ownership of intellectual property rights for the new configuration with AgustaWestland NV.
TAI will also become the sole source for the production of the T-129's fuselage, including final assembly and flight operations, and will be responsible for marketing the "T-129 attack helicopters" for export.