ISTANBUL --- Turkey's TF-X National Combat Aircraft (MMU) – a joint project by the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) – is preparing for a maiden flight using a domestic engine in 2029.
Work to develop the engine continues at full speed, in cooperation with related institutions, according to Osman Dur, general manager of TR Engine, a new research and development (R&D) center for turboshaft engines.
He said some 80 engineers are working in the national fighter jet's domestic engine project, in cooperation with the Turkish Air Forces Command.
"The engine tests are set to be completed by 2026 or 2027. The MMU's maiden flight with a domestic engine will take place in 2029," he added.
The MMU is a fifth-generation jet with similar features to Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II. The domestically-built aircraft is being developed to replace the Turkish Air Forces Command's F-16 fighters, ahead of the gradual phasing out of the latter throughout the 2030s.
Due to the gradual decommissioning of the F-16 combat aircraft over the next decade, the significance of the TF-X project has grown – not least as the U.S. has also halted the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey as part of a coercive effort against Ankara.
A mockup of the national combat aircraft was first showcased at the Paris Air Show in June 2019 and later at the Teknofest Istanbul in September.
The project to develop domestic capabilities to manufacture national jet fighter engines was initially launched by TAI but was later taken on by TR Engine, a company established in 2017 by the SSB to incorporate various engine-related projects under a single umbrella. Around 55% of the company is owned by Turkish defense contractor BMC, while TAI has a 35% stake. SSTEK, a subsidiary of the SSB, also has a 10% share in TR Engine.
In a statement to Anadolu Agency (AA) Friday, the General Manager of the group Osman Dur said the firm had been negotiating with international engineering and design firms, along with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), given that design and production represented two separate operations. "There is no point in designing technologies that we cannot put into production. Therefore, we continue our best efforts to develop local suppliers for the domestic aircraft industry," he said. (end of excerpt)
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