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Turkey to launch its own fighter jet: the TAI TF-X

The Turkish Air Force has commissioned its own fighter from Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).

The TAI TF-X will be a fifth-generation all-weather twin-engine air superiority fighter with upgraded attack and stealth capabilities.

It will replace the Turkish Air Force’s fleet of F-16 fighters and join the F-35 fleet, where it’s expected to meet Turkey’s air combat needs until 2070. Countries including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Indonesia have expressed interest in buying the indigenous fighter or investing in it as partners.

 The story so far

In 2016, the Turkish government signed a contract with TAI. The four-year agreement covers the initial design stage and the development of technology for the fighter.

TAI then signed a £100m contract with BAE Systems in 2017 to collaborate on the TF-X. BAE will provide consulting and support on the engineering side of the project. Initial designs were completed in December 2017.

A full-sized mockup – 19 metres from nose to tail and 12 metres from wingtip to wingtip – was unveiled in June 2019 at the Paris Air Show.

Finally, in May 2020, TAI struck deals with Turkish company HAVELSAN, which will develop software and provide embedded training for the aircraft, and with Malaysia, which will produce some of the components.

The TF-X is planned to make its maiden flight in 2025 and enter service in 2028.

TAI TF-X design

With a high-speed aerodynamic stealth fuselage made from advanced carbon composites, it’s mainly designed for air-to-air combat, but will be able to function as an air-to-surface aircraft too.

It’ll also be well-suited to joint operations, being interoperable with other fighters like the F-35A, and equipped with state-of-the-art weapon systems and sensor fusion techniques, as well as low observability and high situational awareness.

The smart cockpit will contain advanced avionics with graphics interfaces, multiple displays, digital maps, high-end interconnectivity devices and environmental data systems, as well as voice recognition, synthetic vision and a top-quality audio system.

Dassault Systeme will provide the aircraft’s flight control software, and ASELSAN will supply an AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar, which, coupled with the stealth fuselage, will create an elite stealth fighter.

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