Singapore Air Show

Turkish Fighter Makes Asia-Pacific Debut

 - February 16, 2022, 2:28 PM
The TF design exhibits low-observable features such as chined nose, carat-shaped intakes, widely canted twin fins and blended surfaces. The type also has a low infrared signature,claims Turkish Aerospace.

Turkish Aerospace is showing a full-scale mock-up of the TF (Turkish Fighter, known as MMU in Turkey) at the Singapore Airshow, where the design is on display for the first time. The aircraft is now in development with an aim of rolling out the first example in 2023 and flying it in 2025. Turkey sees opportunities for the aircraft and related technologies in the Asia-Pacific region, where Turkish Aerospace has sold T129 attack helicopters to the Philippines and is pursuing a sale of the Hurjet jet trainer to Malaysia with the possibility of local production.

Turkey elected to pursue a national combat aircraft in 2010 to replace the air force’s F-16s from 2030. Following evaluation of various configurations, Turkey chose a twin-engined, twin-tailed layout in 2015, with a design and development contract awarded to prime contractor Turkish Aerospace for what was then known as TF-X the following year. The program has taken on a higher priority since Turkey's removal from the F-35 program.

The TF is of a stealthy design, with internal weapon bays. Its service ceiling is 55,000 ft and maximum speed is Mach 1.8 at 40,000 ft, with the ability to “supercruise," or fly supersonically without afterburner. The airframe will be rated for +9/-3.5g loads and sensors will include an AESA radar under development by ASELSAN. Two 29,000-pound class General Electric F110 engines will power early TFs, as they do Turkey’s F-16s, but the definitive powerplant remains undefined. However, it is likely to be an indigenous design under development by TRMotor, which might include some Russian technology.

Full-scale models of indigenously-developed weapons from Tubitak-SAGE, Aselsan, and Roketsan appear on display alongside the TF mock-up, illustrating the kind of armament that the aircraft will carry in service. They include the Aselsan Miniature Bomb, which is akin to the Boeing GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, the HGK series of Mk 80 bombs fitted with GPS/inertial guidance kits, and the KGK series, which also adds a range-extending wing kit. Roketsan SOM and SOM-J standoff missiles are shown, as are two members of the Goktug air-to-air missile family, developed by Tubitak-SAGE. The Peregrin is a highly-maneuverable imaging infrared guided within-visual-range weapon, while the Merlin is a longer-ranged weapon with active radar guidance.