Ankara, Turkey – With the TF-X Project, the aim is for the Air Force Command to meet its combat aircraft requirements after the 2030s with an original domestic design model. The objective, therefore, is to complete the original design activities using the domestic industry at a maximum level. The first flight is planned to be carried out in 2023 and it is aimed to complete the prototype of the aircraft in the meantime. A contract has been signed with our national aviation company TUSAS (TAI) for the “Preliminary Design” activities of Phase I of Term I of the Project and the necessary activities are under way in line with the project schedule.

The TF-X (Turkish Fighter – Experimental) is a proposed stealth twin-engine all-weather air superiority fighter being developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).The aircraft is planned to replace F-16 Fighting Falcons of the Turkish Air Force and to be exported to foreign air forces. The Turkish Ministry of National Defense said the TF-X would make its first flight by 2023. On 26 March 2020 Temel Kotil, CEO of Turkish Aerospace, announced that the TF-X will roll out on 18 March 2023 with two GE F110 engines.

Development

On 15 December 2010, Turkey’s Defense Industry Executive Committee (SSIK) decided to design, develop and manufacture a national next generation air-superiority fighter which would replace Turkey’s F-16 fleet and operate with other critical assets like F-35 Lightning II.

In 2015, the TAI released three potential airframe configurations:

Single engine configuration
High agility single engine canard-delta configuration
Twin engine configuration

Some features of a 5th generation fighter projected for the TF-X are:

Sensor fusion
Improved situational awareness
Reduced detectability
Internal weapon bays
High maneuverability
Jane’s has described the project as “extremely ambitious”.

Bid

On 13 March 2015, the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) officially issued a Request for Information to Turkish companies which had the capability “to perform a genuine design, development and production activities of the first Turkish fighter aircraft to meet Turkish Armed Forces’ next generation fighter requirements” signalling the official start of the program. The contract for design and development of the fighter was signed between the SSM of Ministry of Turkish National Defense and Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. on 5 August 2016. The SSM granted $1.18 bn. to Turkish Aerospace Industries to acquire necessary technologies and infrastructure for the design, testing and certification of the aircraft.

Design

Airframe

All three conceptual designs thus far feature a design optimized for low radar cross-sectional density, internal weapons bays, and the ability to supercruise, features associated with fifth-generation fighter jets.

TAI’s Advanced Carbon Composites fuselage facility, which was commissioned to produce fuselages for Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) program, has been tasked with developing an Advanced Carbon Composite fuselage for the TF-X. The Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) has also issued a tender for the development of a new lighter carbon composite thermoplastic for the TF-X fuselage.

Radar and sensors

ASELSAN is currently developing an advanced active electronically scanned array radar which will use gallium nitride (GaN) technology for the TF-X program.

Avionics and equipment

The TF-X will be integrated from the cockpit to accompanying UAVs (most likely the TAI Anka) through encrypted datalink connections.The aircraft will likely use upgraded variants 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, which already deployed with the other air platforms.

Propulsion

The fighter will be equipped with two General Electric F110 engines until indigenous ones are manufactured by TRMotor.

Preliminary specifications

Data from Turkish Aerospace

General characteristics

Crew: One pilot
Length: 21 m (68 ft 11 in)
Wingspan: 14 m (45 ft 11 in)
Height: 6 m (19 ft 8 in)
Wing area: 60 m2 (670 sq ft)
Max takeoff weight: 27,215 kg (60,000 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × General Electric F110 (until indigenous ones are manufactured by TRMotor) , 120 kN (27,000 lbf) thrust each
Performance

Maximum speed: 2,222 km/h (1,381 mph, 1,200 kn)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.8
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

Armament

Missiles:

Air-to-air missiles:

GOKTUG missile program:
Gokdogan (Peregrine) short-range infrared homing
Bozdogan (Merlin) BVR active radar homing
MBDA Meteor (BVRAAM)
Air-to-surface missiles:
SOM Cruise Missile (B1, B2, and J variants)

Bombs:

HGK-82 (Mark 82 bomb w/ TUBITAK-SAGE Precision Guidance Kit)
KGK-82 (Mark 82 bomb w/ TUBITAK-SAGE Wing Assisted Guidance Kit)
Teber-82 (Mark 82 bomb w/ ROKETSAN Laser Guidance Kit
KGK-83 (Mark 83 bomb w/ TUBITAK-SAGE Wing Assisted Guidance Kit
HGK-84 (Mark 84 bomb w/ TUBITAK-SAGE Precision Guidance Kit)

Avionics

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) etc.)
Advanced Cockpit / Human Machine Interface