Turkey is moving steadily toward building its own fifth-generation fighter jet. Yes, exactly the fifth generation, while China, the U.S., Britain and the trio of France, Germany and Spain are working on a sixth-generation aircraft.
Here's What We Know
Turkish Aerospace Industry has unveiled the first prototype of the Turkish fighter, called the TF-X. The manufacturer has already been able to assemble several key parts of the aircraft - the centerplane, wings, as well as the nose and tail of the fuselage.
✨ Türkiye'nin en önemli savunma sanayisi projelerinden biri olarak öne çıkıyor ✅ Projede gövde parçaları nihai montaj hattına taşındı ???? 18 Mart'ta hangardan çıkacak
The prototype will be ready for ground testing on March 18, 2023, after which Turkish Aerospace Industry, a state-owned company, will be able to proceed with ground testing of the fighter. It is expected that TF-X will be able to take to the skies in 2026 (previously the flight was planned for 2025) and will be accepted for service two years after that.
Technical characteristics of the aircraft Turkey keeps secret. It is known that at the initial stage TF-X must be equipped with engines F110 American company General Electric. In the future, it is planned to integrate Turkish-made engines. The supplier will be selected based on the results of a tender in which Tusas Engine Industries, TRMotor and TAEC (a joint venture between Kale Group and Rolls Royce) will take part.
The TF-X will be 18.2 meters long and have a wingspan of almost 11.9 meters. This means that the Turkish fighter will be slightly larger than the American F-35 Lightning II, but will be inferior in size to the F-22 Raptor.
The company will have to face some problems on the way to building the TF-X. The key one is the delayed supply of General Electric engines (F-110-GE-129 or F110-GE-132). Yes, the production of propulsion systems is established in Turkey, but they are used in the F-16C/D Fighting Falcon and have simplified technical parameters.
The TF-X was unveiled earlier. President and CEO, Temil Kotel told me, "Its going to be the best fighter in Europe!" First flight expected in 2025 and should be in service in 2028. pic.twitter.com/DPw7oXoG2d
It is not certain that the US will want to supply the right engines, and a deal with Russia looks very unlikely in view of the attack on Ukraine. Other problems are the high cost and supply of advanced digital electronics, which could be in question as other countries develop a sixth-generation fighter as well.
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