The heavy edited announcement from the Italian aircraft maker Aleina Aermacchi made it sound so nice, it was too good to be true.
Alenia Aermacchi has signed an agreement with Savunma Sanayii Müsteşarlığı (SSM), the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries to deliver two ATR 72-600 TMUA (Turkish Maritime Utility Aircraft) and six ATR 72-600 TMPA (Turkish Maritime Patrol Aircraft) to the Turkish Navy. The contract calls for strong industrial collaboration between Alenia Aermacchi and Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) for the duration of the project.
But the magic lasted only one paragraph.
The agreement is an amendment to a previous deal between Alenia and the Turkish government for the delivery of 10 ATR 72-500 ASW to the Turkish Navy.The most important change into the contract amendment is the adoption of the new -600 version of the ATR 72, the best in class of regional Turboprop. The original contract was based on the now out of production ATR 72-500.
I think the whole Meltem acquisition project should be thought in business and project management courses as a case study as an example how not to run a project.
When the Project started in 1998, CASA was still an independent company; the C-295 has just made its maiden flight and its ASW version did not exist even in the dreams of the CASA/EADS/Airbus Military engineers. After 16 years we still do not have any fully operational ASW planes for our navy.
And it gets only worse. Last week the Alenia announced that they were going to delivery 8 new planes to Turkish Navy. This is actually BS as two of the planes will be two ATR 72-600 TMUA (Turkish Maritime Utility Aircraft) which means in plain English that these planes will carry neither weapons nor any sensors. They will be used cargo planes.
Thanks to the agreement, the Turkish Navy will obtain the last generation ATR72-600 equipped with a glass cockpit as well as more powerful engines that guarantee best performance and supportability for the next 30 years.
The two ATR 72-600TMUA–already in the modification phase at Alenia Aermacchi’s plant in Naples-Capodichino–will be used by the Turkish Navy for personnel and cargo transport and will be delivered in June and July 2013 .
In July 2005 a contract was signed to procure 10 ATR-72-500 planes for ASW missions, to be used by Turkish Navy after the first part of the program involving the CN-235 planes was stuck. 8 years later, the Italians realized that they cannot deliver the 10 planes to according to the deal done in the contract so they had to renegotiate the whole deal. Now we get 2 planes less but a newer version of the ATR-72 plane as production of the -500 variant is discontinued in the mean time.
As the newer -600 version has improved engines it is believed that the performance of the -600 will be superior to the old -500 version. But this fact has to be proven first.
I must give my respects to the PR people of the SSM and Alenia as they deserved it by making a good news from the rotten state of the whole Meltem Project; that is some spin doctoring.