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TF-X National Fighter Aircraft [Yerli Savas Jeti] - Background

The Jet Trainer Aircraft (T-X) and Fighter Aircraft [TF-X] Conceptual Design Project conducted a Conceptual Design study to design and produce prototypes for modern platforms that meet Turkish Armed Forces needs. It will substitute Turkish Air Forces existing T-38 Trainer Aircraft and F-16 Fighter Aircraft to be replaced in the 2020's, by employing domestic capabilities to the maximum extent possible. The project aims to maximize the utilization of existing domestic capabilities, identify critical technologies during the development and production phases of the aircraft and coordinate the planning of industrialization requirements.

Since the late 1970s, Turkey had consistently pursues a policy of ensuring technology transfer and local participation, to the extent possible, through offset arrangements in defence procurement. In that context, F-16 aircraft were produced in Turkey at Turkish Aerospace Industries in Ankara (TAI) while the engines were assembled at Tusas Engine Industries (TEI) in Eskisehir. Some analysts qualify TAI's present standing as shallow and inefficient, as the company had struggled to find work following the F-16 program's end.

In October 2005 the Turkish defense procurement agency (SSM) released a brief RfI for a new fighter program. The new fighter deal, because of the scale of work, could promote TAI as an important aerospace firm. The RfI was sent to Eurofighter GmbH, Lockheed Martin, the maker of the F-35, and Boeing Co.

By November 2005 the European consortium Eurofighter GmbH joined the multi-billion-dollar competition for the procurement of new generation fighter jets. The Eurofighter consortium, which includes Italian, German, British and Spanish firms - continues efforts to include Turkey in its program for the Eurofighter Typhoon project. In a search to gain upper hand in Turkeys next generation fighter aircraft acquisition to replace ageing fleet of F-4s and F-16s, in 2006 the Eurofighter Group proposed US$5 billion work for Turkish defence industry in a possible Eurofighter acquisition by Turkey.

Turkey, whose present fighter fleet is made up of US-made aircraft, planned to buy the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II planes. By 2005 Turkey had invested $175 million for the development phase of the JSF, but increasing uncertainties over the eventual cost of the program was unnerving Turkey's procurement officials. But Turkish officials want another future jet fighter to be developed with a country or countries other than the United States. As of 2006 Turkey planned to buy 120 next generation fighter aircraft and had since 2002 been a 3rd level participant in the ongoing system development and demonstration phase (SDD) of US Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) Project.

Plans for the "Turkish type fighter" were unveiled in Ankara on 15 December 2010, with local company Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) named as general co-ordinator for the program. As a resolution of the December 15, 2010 dated meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee [SSIK], it was decided that Turkish Aerospace Industries [TAI] and SSM begin negotiating the details for designing and producing a national fighter jet to meet the 2020 and on requirements of the Turkish Air Force. As a result of the activities, conducted in line with this resolution, related agreement and technical / administrative documents were prepared and agreed upon.

Turkish Aerospace Industries [TAI] was tasked with determining the specifications of the new fighter by the end of 2012. Under the two-year agreement, TUSAS will carry out feasibility works. At the end of that period, a final decision will be made by the Defense Industry Executive Committee for the next phase of the project.

The SSM had allocated $20 million for an initial two-year design phase to be conducted by TAI, with the company to also be responsible for sourcing engines from a foreign supplier. Korea Aerospace Industries is seeking international partners for its KF-X development, with Indonesia also having expressed interest. In mid-2011 Turkey held separate talks with aeronautical officials from South Korea and Sweden for possible cooperation in the design, development and production of a new fighter aircraft in the next decade. South Koreas Korea Aerospace Industries [KAI] is planning to produce the KF-X fighter aircraft, and Swedens Saab is the maker of the JAS 39 Gripen multi-role fighter.

On 23 August 2011 the agreement for Jet Trainer and Fighter Aircraft Conceptual Design Project was signed between the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industries (SSM) and Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI) to begin a national fighter jet project. Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, Air Forces Commander Gen. Mehmet Erten and Defense Industry Undersecretary Murad Bayar attended the signing ceremony held in Ankara.

Within the framework of the agreement, in order to meet the 2020 and on Jet Trainer and Fighter Aircraft Conceptual Design Project aircraft, the following will be realized:

  • Determination of the operation requirements,
  • Activities of necessity analyze
  • Definition of the concept of the aircraft and system / sub-systems,
  • Feasibility of national potential and capability,
  • International cooperation models.

By the end of the agreement, the results of the technical and administrative activities will be evaluated by SSIK and decision will be made for the next step.

National Fighter Aircraft [Yerli Savas Jeti]

Turkey's most important project in aviation, the 'National Fighter Aircraft', appeared in three different designs. TAI and the Air Force's 'conceptual design' were reviewed by the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) on 29 September 2012, and will be presented to the Air Force. One of these three design to be selected. The National Fighter Aircraft, along with the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ANKA, training aircraft Hrkus are the most important aviation project in the next 10 years in Turkey. The project is aimed at meeting domestic fighter jets needs by the year 2023.

Mainly used for air-to-air missions, for this aircraft one of the most important requests is for 'low visibility' under radar. The main design is of great importance to this property. To do this, the weapons are transported in the fuselage. Thus, the radar echoes are reflected less. Three different designs were ranked according to high-speed, efficient strike force, excellent maneuverability and a large radius of operations. One model is twin engine, the other two single-engine.

  1. KANARDLI: a single-engine aircraft, high-and low-speed maneuverability in the air holding the front of the body 'canard' was added to the so-called parts. In size from the smallest of the three models.
  2. DOUBLE MOTOR: the design load more weapons and dual engine was preferred to stay in the air. Length longer than the other models of the aircraft. High speed, long range.
  3. SINGLE MOTOR: Fifth-generation fighter design concepts than the other with the standard lines. Middle class in size. Wing structure of the F-22, F-35 is reminiscent of the body and tail.

The original conceptual design for an aircraft project was done by the Swedish company Saab. The goal here was to draw the right roadmap. Saab was asked about the new generation fighter aircraft in the world - the United States, Russia, France,and Sweden. Designed by Saab, the JAS-39 Gripen is noted for simplicity and success of different sales approaches.

This process is followed by the start of 2021 production. 2023 target for the first flight. Flight tests and then begin the process of delivery. According to the program the process of testing and delivery is scheduled for completion in 2025 and 2035. National War Plane aimed to remain in inventory until 2060.

The first prototype of the new, indigenously developed aircraft, the TFX, was expected to fly in 2023. The Turkish air force was believed to have selected a twin-engine configuration, and BAE Systems was selected as the foreign co-partner to develop it. The TFX would eventually replace the F-16 during the late 2020s to early 2030s. Turkey also had plans to fly F-35Bs from its new amphibious warfare ships.

National Fighter Aircraft [Yerli Savas Jeti]

In the presence of the Prime Ministers of Turkey and the United Kingdom, BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) on 28 January 2017 signed a Heads of Agreement to collaborate on the first development phase of an indigenous fifth-generation fighter jet for the Turkish Air Force TF-X. This announcement built upon a pre-contract study phase between BAE Systems and TAI.

Signing this agreement in Ankara ahead of a planned contract with a value in excess of 100 Million, BAE Systems Chief Executive, Ian King, said: BAE Systems is a leader in designing, manufacturing and supporting fighter aircraft and is in an excellent position to contribute technical and engineering expertise and experience of managing complex projects to this key Turkish programme. The announcement signals an exciting next step in relations between both Turkey and the UK with the co-operation between BAE Systems and TAI paving the way for a deeper defence partnership. The agreement confirms ongoing collaborative work on the design and development of the aircraft."

At its peak hundreds of Turkish and UK engineers will collaborate on the TF-X program helping to support collaboration on the skills, technology and technical expertise required to deliver the program.

At the Paris Air Show, the aircraft was featured with two 12 tonne engines, able to operate at a maximum height of 16.76 km. Just to put that into scale, cloud cover begins at 3 km and higher. Performance-wise, the TF-X was planned to have a maximum speed of twice the speed of sound, and an operational range of nearly 1,111 km until it runs out fuel, exceeding the US F-35 stealth fighter in a terms of speed, maximum operational height, and matching it in terms of operational range.

The fighter jet is 21 meters long, with a large 14-meter wingspan. The fighter jet will reportedly use an advanced glass cockpit with voice-command interface and data-links so that it controls up to two friendly drones, which may be developed to fire air-to-ground or air-to-air missiles. This could allow it to stalk targets at a distant range without being spotted, sending drones to fire weapons without exposing itself to fire.

The engine remains the most important part of the project and could make or break it. An underpowered engine could lead to performance issues, lower speeds, and deny it the air superiority it needs against fighters. Until now, various talks have been held with leading engine manufacturers around the world for joint development or technical assistance in building the TF-X engine. Among these, Rolls-Royce seems to be the leading candidate, forming a joint venture with Kale, one of the leading private defence companies in Turkey, which developed a turbojet engine for the stand-off cruise missile. Negotiations are still ongoing. The Russian state-owned corporation Rostec, which built engines for the Sukhoi 57 (Su-57) fighter jets, has expressed interest in developing thrust-vector engines for the TF-X.

Aside from the standard repertoire of missiles the fighter jet will be able to carry, Aselsan is set to produce the sensors and avionics of the fighter jet. Aselsan is also currently developing an AESA radar, (Active Electronically Scanned Arrays); which would allow the plane to focus radar in different directions without moving a thing. Roketsan is the main player in Turkey when it comes to missiles and rockets. It already manufactures hypersonic SOM (Stand-off missiles), initially developed by Tubitak. It was working on a version for the F-35 with Lockheed Martin called the SOM-J, but given Turkey is no longer involved, it seems likely it will be adapted to the TF-X.

Aselsan has also been building ASELPOD targeting systems for Turkish and Pakistani fighters. They also provide secure communications, identification, friend or foe (IFF) systems, displays and mission computers. Turkish Defence Industries also feature a number of smaller expert companies in airborne software and mission systems.

In February 2018, Turkey announced it had committed nearly $1.2 billion and over 3,200 full-time employees to the TF-Xs development. Turkish Aerospace Industries is the main contractor of the project. ASELSAN and TRMotor are the main subcontractors for mission systems and engines. BAE Systems is providing consultancy and assistance to TAI. Meanwhile, ROKETSAN is expected to provide weapons such as smart and cruise missiles. TUBITAK SAG (the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey), will be building an entire family of air-to-air missiles that ROKETSAN may build. TUBITAK also built Turkeys first rail gun and laser defence systems.

BAE Systems, which is working on the British Tempest stealth fighter programme, has provided consulting for TAI. In January 2017, the then British Prime Minister Theresa May and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan signed a $137 million contract for BAE Systems to advise and assist TAI in the development the TF-X, with follow-up contracts likely down the line. Turkey received support from Saab Aerospace for conceptual design, Dassault Systems of France for software support and BAE Systems for detailed engineering support. These companies are all aerospace giants.

Russia is ready to take part in the development of Turkish fighters of generation 4 ++ and fifth generation, offering a number of technologies. This was announced to reporters on 17 November 2019 by the head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) of Russia Dmitry Shugaev during the XVI Dubai International Airshow 2019. "With regard to the development of prospective aircraft, the parties are currently conducting technical negotiations on a 4 ++ generation aircraft, as well as the first test consultations on the fifth generation," said Shugaev.

Given the existing competencies in the production of our fifth-generation aircraft, Russia could participate in this project: in particular, such cooperation is possible on a number of aircraft systems, he continued. According to Shugaev, this issue is being discussed with partners. "However, it is premature to make statements about the beginning of substantive negotiations on the creation of a new aircraft by Russia and Turkey," the head of service said.




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