Turkish Aerospace Industries plans to soon begin the TF-X combat aircraft alongside British counterparts, with the goal of developing its own “5th generation” fighter which will replace the currently-used Lockheed Martin F-16.
“The building of the TF-X fighter jet will be the most important technology project developed in Turkey within the last 30-40 years,” Temel Kotil, general director of Turkish Aerospace Industries told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
He added that workers were almost in the fifth year of the scheme, but didn’t indicate whether the design would include stealth capabilities.
Kotil has repeatedly said the TF-X fighter jet is expected to make its first flight by 2023.
“While there is a requirement for a predicted 250 TF-X fighters for the Turkish Air Force itself, reports suggest that TF-X will also be aimed at the wider export market,” according to the Royal Aeronautical Society.
The current cost per unit of a F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter is $132.2 million/jet, according to its manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which has been producing stealth planes for decades.
Analysis by the Quwa Defence & Analysis Group in February “put the TFX’s all-inclusive (flyaway plus long-term maintenance) cost at $280 million a unit.”
Rolls-Royce signed a deal on Monday with Turkey’s Kale Group, which is a defense and aerospace firm, to produce aircraft engines in the future.
“Kale Group will own 51 per cent and Rolls-Royce 49 per cent of the joint venture, which aims to develop aircraft engines for Turkey, initially targeting the TF-X National Fighter Jet Project,” read a statement from Rolls-Royce.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May had visited Ankara in January to meet with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss a 100 million pound ($125 million) deal between Britain’s BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace Industries.
The signing of the agreement allowed Turkey and Britain to collaborate on the design phase of the TF-X.