The modern fighter jets are easily one of the most complex machines to be created, and despite their intricacy, a country that has never before created one is going to try its luck! Turkey is showing off a full-size replica of its future fighter, TF-X, at the Paris Air Show this week as the country comes closer to expulsion from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program.
The fighter has been named TF-X (Turkey, Fighter Experimental) and is currently undergoing development by the Turkish Aerospace Industries. As per a promotional video, the TF-X jet will be 39 feet wide and 60 feet long and shall have a maximum speed of Mach 2 while utilizing two engines that will generate a total of 40,000 pounds of thrust. It will have a maximum takeoff weight of 60,000 pounds and will be able to maintain a maximum altitude of 55,000 feet with a combat radius of 600 nautical miles.
Turkey has been building up to this project, TF-X, for quite some time now. It is one of the few countries that have actually built fighter jets – it produced F-16s under license from the US. Turkish Aerospace Industries also manufactures center fuselages, air inlet ducts, and weapons pylons for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Turkey previously had plans of joining South Korea for developing a fighter jet but eventually decided to build it on its own.
Despite the fact that Turkey has experience with fighter production when it comes to design and development; it is a totally different game. An existing lot of fifth-generation fighters are not only costly but also time-consuming. Take the example of American F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, it has been in development for about twenty years and still hasn’t entered full-rate production. It is still unknown as to how Turkey intends to create complex items such as nose-mounted radar, electronic warfare systems, systems integration, and cockpit interface. Turkey is using General Electric’s F-110 engine that was used to power F-16 for initially powering the TF-X up until the country comes up with a domestic engine.
TAI CEO Temel Kotil has said that the TF-X will be complete in 2023 and shall conduct its first flight in 2025. However, it is not going to enter service with the Turkish Air Force up until 2028.