TAI TF-X

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TAI TF-X
Role Stealth air superiority fighter [1]
National origin Turkey
Manufacturer Turkish Aerospace Industries
Designer Turkish Aerospace Industries
BAE Systems
Status Preliminary Design Studies[2]
Program cost US$50 billion (expected)[3]
Unit cost
US$100 million (expected)[4]

The TF-X (Turkish Fighter – Experimental) is a proposed twin-engine[5] all-weather air superiority fighter[6] being developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) with technological assistance from BAE Systems.[7][8] The aircraft is planned to replace F-16 Fighting Falcons of the Turkish Air Force and to be exported to foreign air forces.[9] The Turkish Ministry of National Defense has confirmed that the first TF-X aircraft is going to fly by 2023.[10]

Development[edit]

On December 15, 2010, Turkey's Defense Industry Executive Committee (SSIK) decided to design, develop and manufacture a national next generation air-superiority fighter which would replace Turkey's F-16 fleet and operate with other critical assets like F-35 Lightning II.[11] Funding equivalent to US$20 million was allocated for a 2-year conceptual design phase performed by the Turkish Aerospace Industries.[12] TAI officials have stated that conceptual design phase should be complete in late 2013, with a report being prepared and submitted to the Prime Minister for the approval of development phase budget and framework. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced on January 8, 2015, that the TF-X will be a twin-engined fighter.[5] The Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), the procurement agency for Turkish Armed Forces, has written a letter of intent to three engine manufacturers: General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Eurojet Turbo. On January 20, 2015, Aselsan of Turkey announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Eurojet, the manufacturer of the EJ200 engine used in the Eurofighter Typhoon.[13] The announcement also stated that a derivative of the EJ200 will be used in the TF-X program.[14][15][16][17] The two companies will additionally collaborate and co-develop engine control software systems and engine maintenance monitoring systems.[17] Turkey's selection of the EJ200 evidences TAI's intention to use supercruise capability. In December 2017, TAI released preliminary technical specifications and planned features of the aircraft. Some features of a 5th generation fighter projected for the TF-X are:

  • Sensor fusion
  • Improved situational awareness
  • Reduced detectability
  • Internal weapon bays
  • High maneuverability

TAI and TUSAŞ Engine Industries (TEI) will lead the design, entry and development processes of the fighter jet. TEI will focus more on the production of the aircraft's engines, while TAI will develop the airframe and components. The studies will reveal how much the fighter jet will cost, which mechanical and electronic systems would be employed and included, and a wider perspective of the opportunities and challenges in military aviation.[18]

The Turkish Air Force intends to procure at least 250 TF-X starting from 2025 and integrate them in a network-centric air force structure consisting of F-35, F-16 Block 50+, future's Unmanned Combat Aircraft, Airborne Stand-Off Jammers and the Boeing 737 AEW&C Peace Eagle.[citation needed] Turkey plans to introduce the TF-X by 2025, having it and the F-35A comprising a dual fighter jet fleet. The TF-X is to compensate for some of the F-35's drawbacks in a close air combat. Development phase was expected to officially commence by the end of 2014.[19]

Bid[edit]

On March 13, 2015, the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) officially issued a Request for Information to Turkish companies which had the capability "to perform a genuine design, development and production activities of the first Turkish fighter aircraft to meet Turkish Armed Forces’ next generation fighter requirements" signalling the official start of the program.[20] The contract for design and development of the fighter was signed between the SSM of Ministry of Turkish National Defense and Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. on August 5, 2016. The SSM granted $1.18 bn. to Turkish Aerospace Industries to acquire necessary technologies and infrastructure for the design, testing and certification of the aircraft.[21]

BAE Systems[edit]

In December 2015, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) announced that it had chosen BAE Systems of the United Kingdom to assist with the design of the nation’s next-generation air superiority fighter. The same day Rolls-Royce offered EJ200 engine technology transfer and joint-development of a derivative for the TF-X program.[22] During the visit of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May to Turkey in January 2017, BAE Systems and TAI officials signed an agreement, worth about £100 million, for BAE Systems to provide engineering assistance in developing the aircraft.[23] Following the agreement, the UK issued open general export licence to defense companies willing to export goods, software or technology to Turkey.[24]

Rostec of Russia[edit]

Russian defense company Rostec at the Eurasia Air Show 2018 evinced an intention to join the TF-X program[25][26]. In a surprise move, some Russian companies (United Engine Corporation) have also stated that they were ready to provide technology for the TF-X engine[27]. Turkish defense officials confirmed that they are exploring this option and discussing potential cooperation models.

Design[edit]

Airframe[edit]

Hüseyin Yağcı, TAI's chief engineer on the TF-X program, has stated that all three conceptual designs thus far feature a design optimized for low radar cross-sectional density, internal weapons bays, and the ability to supercruise; features associated with fifth-generation fighter jets.[6]

TAI's Advanced Carbon Composites fuselage facility, which was commissioned to produce fuselages for Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter (F-35)[28][29] program, has been tasked with developing an Advanced Carbon Composite fuselage for the TF-X. The Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) has also issued a tender for the development of a new lighter carbon composite thermoplastic for the TF-X fuselage.[30]

Radar and sensors[edit]

ASELSAN is currently developing a highly advanced Active electronically scanned array radar which will use gallium nitride (GaN) technology for the TF-X program.[31]

Avionics and equipment[edit]

The TF-X will be integrated from the cockpit to accompanying UAV's (most likely the TAI Anka) through encrypted datalink connections.[32] The aircraft will likely use upgraded variants of Aselsan's own radar warning receiver (RWR), missile warning system (MWS), laser warning system (LWS), chaff and flare management, dispensing system and digital radio frequency memory (DRFM)-based jamming system, which already deployed with the other air platforms. [33][34]

Propulsion[edit]

The TF-X program is expected to use a derivative of the supercruise capable Eurojet EJ200 engine.[13] The airframe will be equipped with two engines.[35]

Preliminary Specifications[edit]

Data from Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc.[35]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One pilot
  • Length: 19 m (62 ft 4 in)
  • Wingspan: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: 60 m2 (650 sq ft)
  • Max takeoff weight: 27,215 kg (59,999 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls Royce & Kale design , 89 kN (20,000 lbf) thrust each
  • Maximum speed: Mach 2
  • Combat range: 1,111 km; 690 mi (600 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 17,000 m (55,000 ft)

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists

References[edit]

  1. ^ Milli ucak cift motorlu olacak (in Turkish), TR: Kokpit
  2. ^ "TF-X National Fighter Program". www.ssb.gov.tr. Retrieved 2018-10-28.
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