Türkiye's fighter jet emerges as world's quickest aerospace feat - M5 Dergi
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Türkiye’s fighter jet emerges as world’s quickest aerospace feat

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Türkiye’s first homegrown fighter jet is the most successful project ever accomplished in such a short span worldwide and can engage with all existing aircraft, the head of its developer said.

Named KAAN, the fifth-generation warplane conducted its inaugural flight this Wednesday to mark the latest advancement in the country’s efforts to upgrade its air force and curb external dependency.

NATO member Türkiye launched its TF-X project to produce a national combat aircraft in 2016. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) signed a deal with Britain’s BAE Systems worth $125 million in 2017 to develop the next-generation fighter jet.

Temel Kotil, the head of TAI, said KAAN stayed in the air for 13 minutes and reached a speed of 230 knots at an altitude of 8,000 feet.

The jet will make Türkiye one of the few countries with the infrastructure and technology to produce a fifth-generation combat aircraft.

“This is the most successful project accomplished in such a short time globally. The Eurofighter, F-16, Rafael aircraft are lower in technology compared to KAAN,” Kotil told an interview with public broadcaster TRT Haber.

“It made waves globally because no one else could achieve such speed,” he said.

Kotil said KAAN would be capable of engaging with all warplanes.

“When an aircraft reaches the fifth generation, it means it can combat all existing aircraft,” he said.

“The first flight was crucial. It’s a 25-ton apparatus. It encompasses everything. From its computer to hydraulic system, power distribution system…”

Unveiled publicly last year, KAAN is regarded as Türkiye’s most ambitious project. The warplane made a runway debut and completed its first taxi test after starting its engines for the first time in mid-March last year.

It is sought to replace the aging F-16 fleet in the inventory of the Air Forces Command, which is planned to be phased out starting in the 2030s.

Kotil said it’s an entirely domestic aircraft.

“The landing gears are domestic, the generator is domestic, except for the engine and ejection seat … This is the most complex engineering device Turks have ever made,” he said.

“We chose the most advanced technology over F-22 and F-35 when selecting the technology.”

The new fighter jet will initially be powered by General Electric F-110 engines, which are also used on fourth-generation Lockheed Martin F-16 jets.

Türkiye aims to use domestically produced engines on KAAN in serial production, which is expected to start in 2028.

Kotil affirmed that the homegrown fighter jet power unit, to be manufactured by TUSAŞ Engine Industries (TEI), is in the pipeline.

“TEI is collaborating with firms in Ukraine. We hope the national engine will be ready for the aircraft delivery process,” said Kotil.

“We plan to deliver 20 aircraft to the Air Force by 2028.”

The jet will be capable of air-to-air combat with new-generation weapons and precision strikes from internal weapon mounts at supersonic speed. It will provide increased combat power with artificial intelligence and neural network support.

Kotil said work was already underway to transform KAAN into the sixth-generation warplane.

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