Turkey Chooses BAE Systems To Help Design New Fighter

 - January 30, 2017, 9:58 AM
An early concept for the TF-X, which will have stealthy features. (Image: TAI)

BAE Systems has been confirmed as the partner to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in developing Turkey’s proposed indigenous fighter, dubbed the TF-X. A new agreement between the two companies was signed by their heads in Ankara on January 28, in the presence of the prime ministers of Turkey and the UK. BAE Systems has been working with TAI in a study phase for TF-X since 2015, having been selected by Turkey over Airbus D&S and Saab.

“This is more than a trade deal; it is the start of a deep defense partnership that will contribute to our overall security,” said British Prime Minister Theresa May. She also said the Turkish and UK governments had signed “a new and unique agreement that sets a new framework for cooperation and dialogue, including the defense ministries and air forces.”

 ‘‘BAE Systems is a leader in designing, manufacturing and supporting fighter aircraft and is in an excellent position to contribute technical and engineering expertise and experience of managing complex projects to this key Turkish program,” said BAE Systems chief executive Ian King.

The development contract, when signed, is expected to be worth more than $120 million to the British company. BAE said that hundreds of British and Turkish engineers will collaborate on the program, at its peak.

TAI general manager Muharrem Dortkasli said last year that three TF-X design options had emerged, including both single and twin-engine versions.

Turkey has apparently not yet chosen the powerplant for the TF-X, although it has been negotiating with Rolls-Royce for the Eurojet EJ200 turbojet that powers the Eurofighter Typhoon. In October last year, Rolls-Royce signed a memorandum of understanding with Turkey's state scientific research institute to open an "advanced manufacturing technology center" in Turkey.

Rolls-Royce says that technology of the EJ200 makes it smaller and simpler in layout than rival engines of a similar thrust class, and also gives it lower fuel consumption and an unprecedented power-to-weight ratio

Turkey has stated an ambition to fly the TF-X in 2023, the centenary of the country’s foundation.