Farnborough Air Show

Ambitious Schedule Set for Turkey’s Stealth Fighter

 - July 19, 2022, 11:05 AM
The Turkish Aerospace TF-X fighter jet mockup graces the Farnborough show's static display. (Photo: Chris Pocock)

The TF-X mockup leads a lineup of indigenous airframes at the Turkish Aerospace pavilion at the Farnborough Airshow.

A full-scale model of Turkey’s stealth fighter is on display, but it might not take long before the real thing comes to Farnborough. At a media briefing yesterday, Turkish Aerospace (TA) president and CEO Temel Kotil described the extraordinary timescale set for the development and production of the TF-X.

Rollout is “250 days away, and counting,” Kotil declared. The goal is for the TF-X to emerge on March 18 next year, a date that has been celebrated in Turkey since 1915, when the Ottomans repulsed the Allied attempt to capture the Dardanelles and Istanbul. The first flight will follow exactly two years later, with deliveries following by 2028, according to Kotil.

Turkish Aerospace has hired or trained 1,300 engineers to work on the TF-X. Kotil said that another 100 engineers from BAE Systems work in Turkey, helping in the training program as well as the design. The UK and Turkey signed a governmental agreement in January 2017 to collaborate on the development phase. The design has been aided by CAD/CAM software from Dassault Systemes and Siemens. The company has completed wind tunnel testing in the UK, U.S., and South Africa.

The two GE F110 turbofans that will power the prototype have been shipped to Turkey. But since the country is determined to make the TF-X 100 percent indigenous, engines for production aircraft are almost certain to come from Tusas Engine Industries (TEI), a joint venture with GE. Engineers have completed a preliminary design of a 29,000-pound thrust engine that will propel the TF-X to Mach 1.8 at 40,000 feet. Service ceiling is 55,000 feet.

Kotil declined to say how much all the development is costing but noted that the TF-X is a government-funded project. This is unlike the Hurjet, Turkish Aerospace’s advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft, which is theoretically funded entirely by the company. Kotil said that design of the single-engine, tandem seat Hurjet, powered by a single GE F404 turbofan, began four years ago. First flight is next year, perhaps on the same day as the TF-X rolls out. The Turkish air force has ordered 12 to replace its T-38s.

The Hurjet is also represented at the airshow by a full-scale mockup. But Turkish Aerospace is also displaying real hardware outside its own pavilion, which is behind the BAE Systems hall. The Hurkus turboprop trainer and light attack aircraft sit next to the Aksungur, a twin-engine, medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV. The smaller single-engine Anka UAV is also there, alongside a Gokbey multirole helicopter.

Kotil talked fondly of Turkish Aerospace’s training program, which has produced 4,000 engineers in the 10 years that he has been running the company. “They are hungry for success,” he said, adding that he endeavors to make Turkish Aerospace “one of the world’s top ten players."