Turkey’s next-generation indigenous fighter was officially unveiled on Monday at the Paris Air Show. On the same day that France and Germany revealed of model of their collaborative offering for a sixth-generation fighter at the show, Turkey unveiled a full-scale mockup of its TF-X offering, which is the NATO nation’s effort to be able to offer a fifth-generation fighter to the international market by the late 2020s.
“We have promised to our nation that this will be the best fighter in Europe,” said Temel Kotil, president and CEO of prime contractor Turkish Aerospace. “As well as Turkey, hopefully this will also be a good fighter option for European allies.”
According to Kotil, the company’s experience on international defense programs such as the A400M and F-35 proves the manufacturing capabilities of the Turkish defense industry, which it will apply to the development of the new fighter. First flight of TF-X is expected to be scheduled for 2025, and the country is targeting entry to service in 2028, he said.
The UK is in some part involved in the TF-X effort, with the government having signed a "heads of agreement" in 2017 to facilitate the two jointly developing the aircraft.
To that end, BAE Systems is helping with the aircraft design, while Rolls-Royce teamed with Turkish company Kale Group to work on the development of an indigenous engine for the future fighter. But earlier this year it was announced that the British propulsion developer had scaled back its involvement due to an intellectual property transfer dispute, and that it and Kale had proposed revised terms to the Turkish government.
While Turkish Aerospace referred to benefits gained from experience with programs such as the F-35, for which Turkish Aerospace develops the center fuselage, the U.S. government has said that Turkey may be expelled from the F-35 program as a result of its decision to continue with a planned acquisition of the S-400 air defense system from Russia. This could therefore affect TF-X as well.