Turkey has begun a new chapter in the country’s modern military history. Recently Turkey Showcased the first prototype of the TAI TF-X Air Superiority Fighter jet. The National Combat Aircraft [MMU in Turkish] TAI TF-X, Turkey’s first military aircraft, has begun taxiing tests. The test was successfully completed by the TF-X, which took to the track with its own engines. After Showcasing Turkey’s beast, a major drift has taken place in the world of Fighter jets where F-35, F-22, Su-35, and Rafale are dominating. Although all of us were expecting it to be a Fighter jet with a simple design and avionics, Turkey has surprised us with its next-generation prototype model. Let us learn about the new TF-X fighter jet.
About TAI TF-X
The Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is developing the TAI TF-X (Turkish Fighter), a stealth twin-engine all-weather air superiority fighter with BAE Systems as a subcontractor. The TF-X is intended to replace the Turkish Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft and to be exported to other countries. The TF-X prototype was unveiled on March 17, 2023, and will fly for the first time by the end of the year.
Timeline and Development of TF-X
On December 15, 2010, Turkey’s Defense Industry Executive Committee (SSIK) decided to design, develop, and produce a national next-generation air-superiority fighter to replace Turkey’s F-16 fleet and operate alongside other critical assets such as the F-35 Lightning II. The Turkish Armed Forces’ procurement agency, Turkey’s Under secretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), now known as the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), signed an agreement with TAI in 2011 for the conceptual development of basic capabilities.
In 2015, the TAI released three potential airframe configurations:
- FX-1: Twin engine, Lockheed Martin F-22-like configuration
- FX-5: Single engine, General Dynamics F-16-like configuration
- FX-6: High agility single engine canard-delta Saab JAS 39 Gripen-like configuration
On January 8, 2015, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that the TF-X will be a twin-engine fighter. In March 2017, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries released its 2016 Performance Report, revealing that the final decision was to keep the twin-engine FX-1 configuration. The development of the TF-X began in 2010, with some hiccups and delays along the way. However, when Turkey was kicked out of the F-35 program in 2019, the development process accelerated.
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAS) developed the TF-X, which has fifth-generation warplane technology and features. The country hopes to have its first aircraft operational by 2030. Turkey is now one of the few countries with the infrastructure and technologies needed to develop a fifth-generation fighter jet. Internal weapon slots, high maneuverability, increased situational awareness, and sensor fusion are among the technologies required for a new generation of aircraft.
Design and Specifications
The TF-X composes of TAI’s Advanced Carbon Composites fuselage facility for low radar cross-sectional density, internal weapons bays, and the ability to supercruise. Through the Advanced Carbon Composite fuselage of the TF-X, it will be a major player in the air and possibly surpass the current players like F-35 and F-22.
Also read: Stealth Is Power: Turkey Unfolds New Deep-Strike Drone ANKA-3
Avionics and Equipment
Through encrypted datalink connections, the TF-X is linked from the cockpit to accompanying UAVs (most likely the TAI Anka). The aircraft incorporates upgraded versions of Aselsan’s own radar warning receiver (RWR), missile warning system (MWS), laser warning system (LWS), chaff and flare management, dispensing system, and digital radio frequency memory (DRFM)-based jamming system, all of which are already in use on other air platforms. Some of the special mentions are:
- IRFS (AESA Radar, Electronic Warfare (EW))
- Advanced Navigation Features (ICNI)
- Integrated Electro-Optical Systems (IEOS) (Infrared Search and Track (IRST), Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS)
- Advanced Cockpit / Human Machine Interface
Prototypes were powered by General Electric F110 engines until the TAEC engine, a collaboration between Turkish KALE and British Rolls-Royce.
- Maximum speed: 2,470 km/h (1,530 mph, 1,333 kn)
- Maximum speed: Mach 2
- Combat range: 1,100 km (690 mi, 600 nmi)
- Service ceiling: 17,000 m (55,000 ft)
- g limits: +9.0 g & -3.5 g
Turkey Plans the first Flight in 2023
On August 5, 2016, Turkey launched the TAI TF-X project, with the goal of developing its own 5th-generation combat aircraft with domestic resources. Ankara had originally planned for the plane to take off in 2026. Turkey, on the other hand, is making rapid progress and now claims that the first flight will take place by the end of 2023. TAI is expected to produce three prototype MMU Block 0 and one MMU Block I. Three MMU Block 0 prototypes are expected to be completed by the end of 2026. It is planned to begin production of the MMU Block I configuration in 2029 and deliver 10 A/C MMU Block I to the Turkish Air Force.
In the first stage, the national fighter jet will be classified as generation 4.5, with the goal of reaching 5th-generation status in the final stage. The F-22 and F-35 fighter jets produced in the United States are currently classified as 5th-generation fighter jets. The Su-57 and J-20 platforms, both built in Russia, are described as 4.5-generation combat aircraft aiming for 5th-generation status. However, Turkey’s fifth-generation fighter jet has been developed to complement the F-16 Fighting Falcon and replace the Turkish Air Force’s outdated McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II.
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