Türkiye is preparing to end 2023, a year marked by breakthroughs in defense platforms, by sending its indigenous fifth-generation fighter jet and its first flying-wing, deep-strike unmanned aerial vehicle to the sky for the first time.
The year-to-date has already seen a string of maiden flights, including that of Türkiye’s first unmanned fighter jet, Kızılelma, jet-powered training and light fighter, Hürjet, as well as the new unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), Bayraktar TB3, tailored for the country’s newly commissioned aircraft carrier, TCG Anadolu.
The remaining days of 2023 are set to see the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) perform the inaugural flights of the domestically developed fifth-generation combat aircraft, named KAAN, and the new combat drone, Anka-3.
Unveiled publicly earlier this year, KAAN is one of the most important projects in Türkiye’s history. The warplane made a runway debut and successfully completed its first taxi test after starting its engines for the first time in mid-March.
The platform makes Türkiye one of the few countries with the infrastructure and technology to produce a fifth-generation combat aircraft. It is aimed at replacing the aging F-16 fleet in the inventory of the Air Forces Command, which is planned to be phased out starting in the 2030s. The project was launched in 2016.
Having undergone comprehensive independent tests, the mission systems and subsystems that will be onboard during KAAN’s maiden flight have begun to be installed on the aircraft, which had been disassembled down to the smallest component.
The assembly activity will culminate with the installment of the engines in the prototype. Following assembly, KAAN is forecast to move to the runway and prepare for its first flight through a sequence of slow and then fast taxiing.
The culmination of these activities is targeted for mid-December, with KAAN’s first flight scheduled for Dec. 27.
The 21-meter (about 69-feet) jet is expected to be able to reach a maximum speed of Mach 1.8 (2,222 kph) thanks to its twin engines, which can produce 29,000 pounds (13,000 kilograms) thrust each.
KAAN boasts all technologies and features found in fifth-generation warplanes. It will provide the opportunity to strategically attack air-to-air and air-to-ground targets. It has a completely domestic infrastructure for secure data sharing and the use of smart munitions.
With its high-performance radar, electronic warfare, electro-optics, communication, navigation and identification capability, it is expected to achieve increased combat power with precision and accurate firing from internal weapon slots at high/supersonic speed. It also boasts automatic target recognition and detection, multiple data fusion and artificial intelligence capabilities.
The project helped Türkiye advance in technology areas such as low visibility, internal weapons slots, high maneuverability, increased situational awareness and sensor fusion, all features that are required for a new generation aircraft.
As for Anka-3, the platform has undergone design, structural and subsystem enhancements and is expected to boast several advantages such as low radar visibility, high speed and a substantial payload capacity.
It will have the same avionic architecture and ground control stations as Anka and Anka-2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles, also developed by TAI.
It has neither horizontal nor vertical tails, a design that officials say will enable it to operate covertly without detection. It will also feature a high-speed transfer capability, allowing quick deployment to remote areas.
The Anka-3 is expected to be capable of flying at a service altitude of up to 40,000 feet and withstand flight for up to 10 hours at 30,000 feet. It will have a maximum takeoff weight of 6,500 kilograms and a practical payload capacity of 1,200 kilograms.
Source: Daily Sabah