TF-X National Fighter Aircraft [Yerli Savas Jeti]
The name of Türkiye's national combat aircraft, known as TF-X, is Kaan, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on 01 May 2023. Türkiye is now in every field – on land, in sea and submarine, in air and space, Erdogan said during an event – "Century of the Future" – organized by the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in the capital Ankara to introduce its aircraft together, including Kaan. The aircraft's name was given by Devlet Bahceli, the leader of Türkiye's Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the president said. Kaan is a historic title used by the rulers of Turkic and Mongolian states.
"Our visionary entrepreneurs have been blocked both internally and externally. They did the same to our late Erbakan teacher. One by one, our young people were sabotaged by sneaky methods. Despite this, necessary steps were prevented from being taken as necessary. We have never deviated from our goals. Step by step we got to this stage. What was domestic at that time was 20 percent. What did we do now, we increased it to 80 percent. Today, we have reached the results that are the symbols of the future that Gazi Mustafa Kemal pointed to by saying, 'The future is in the skies'. That's why we call it 'Istikbal' today."
"I thank my Lord for showing us these days. His father is also Devlet Bey (Devlet Bahçeli). Now these are going to make someone very uncomfortable. You know what they said about our other projects. They will also call them mock-ups. These are our every success, the ones on the other side of the water are disturbed. Sorry, we will continue to disturb them. We are the Turkish nation, even KAAN and Hürjet are enough to wake them up from the dreams they hope for. If the enthusiasm here makes someone nervous, it means we are on the right track. We will work harder to do more."
the Chief Engineer of the project Emre Yaman stated "These planes are actually planes that you cannot buy with money in the world. Even if you give money, they do not give these planes. We are working to bring these planes to our nation and our homeland. The most important feature is that they have invisibility features, which we call the 5th Generation, and an internal weapon. We can say that the most important capabilities of our aircraft are that it has different features such as super cruise. MMU is actually the main control unit that will provide the control of 4-5 platforms you see here. It actually means our aircraft, which is at the center of the business. Therefore, it can be strategically bought with money. A power multiplier you can't get for our air force."
Yaman said, "We expect to see MMU in the sky at the end of the year. Of course, safety is the most important condition for us. It will fly whenever we provide security, but our target is the end of the year." There will be 6 to 8 prototypes to fly in this process at MMU. Thus, it indicates that both ground and air tests can be completed much faster.
Turkey's original warplane, the National Combat Aircraft (MMU - Milli Muharip Uçak), started taxi tests 17 March 2023. The National Combat Aircraft, which took to the runway using its own engines, successfully completed the test. The National Combat Aircraft Project, which was initiated by the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) and carried out under the main contractor of TAI, continues successfully. The National Combat Aircraft, which has recently started its engines for the first time, has started taxi tests, the next stage of ground tests.
Turkey’s TF-X project, a $13 billion effort to be able to offer a fifth-generation fighter to the international market, is aiming for first flight in 2025 and to enter service in 2028. As of 2019, a flying prototype is expected by 2023, with the first plane envisioned to be ready by 2025, and the full fleet of 250 to be operational by 2032. These are planned to replace Turkey’s ageing fleet of 245 F-16 fighter jets, which only have one engine, among other drawbacks. The TF-X could remain in service until the 2070s.
The Turkish Air Force has around 240 F-16s and nearly 40 F-4s. The F-4s are at the very end of their service lives. Thirty of the F-16s are of newer models received between 2011 and 2013. But in general, the Turkish Air Force has to fill in a strategic gap in early 2020 when some of its older planes will be retired. Meanwhile, neighbors such as Greece have expressed an interest in the F-35, and upgraded their F-16s, while all neighbouring countries are pursuing fourth or fifth-generation fighter jets. With Turkey’s suspension from the F-35 program, it seemed all the more necessary to develop an indigenous stealth fighter that works well with the long-range missile coverage provided by the S400 it procured recently from Russia. With its own fifth-generation fighter, Turkey would stand to profit by selling it to other countries, while enjoying increased national security with a supply chain that can’t be threatened by sanctions. Initially, there were talks with South Korea to merge the project with the Korean experimental fighter jet program being carried out with Indonesia. But the countries had different defence needs and priorities, affecting the design. Given the United States’ role in removing Turkey from the F-35 program, it did not seem feasible for Lockheed Martin to be a partner.
Turkish Aerospace Industries unveiled a model of its indigenously designed fifth-generation fighter jet, dubbed the TF-X, at the Paris Air Show on 17 June 2019. Turkey’s primary aircraft design bureau put forward at the air show Ankara’s answer to the loss of the F-35, a plane Turkey had once hoped to buy 100 of from the US. Washington recently put that deal on hold over its continued objection to Ankara’s purchasing of S-400 air defense systems from Russia. On the tarmac at Paris-Le Bourget Airport, the dramatic unveiling showed the world a twin-engine, canted-vertical-tail fighter that looks a bit like an F-35, but with a narrower fuselage and wider wingspan.
TAI President and CEO Temel Kotil said "in terms of manufacturing, Turkish Aerospace has enough strength to build this fighter. Our machine is a mock-up, but in 2023 there will be a real machine, and first flight is in 2025, and [it will be in] service in 2028.” Kotil said “We have promised to our nation that this will be the best fighter in Europe. As well as Turkey, hopefully this will also be a good fighter option for European allies.”
The TF-X will have a top speed of Mach 2, a range of 600 miles, and with a maximum takeoff weight of 60,000 pounds. Its engines will provide the jet with 20,000 pounds of thrust each, making it roughly comparable to the Joint Strike Fighter, although slightly faster.
Turkey signed an agreement with the UK in 2017 to facilitate the joint development the aircraft, it said, noting that BAE Systems is helping with the aircraft design, while Rolls-Royce teamed with Turkey’s Kale Group to work on the development of an indigenous engine for the TF-X. BAE Systems, which had collaborated on the program with TAI, said the TF-X will be capable of carrying the long-range, air-to-air Meteor missile under development by European manufacturer MBDA. Ankara was looking to use US General Electric F110 for its first TF-X aircraft.
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