Turkey’s Hürjet Trainer Powers up for First Flight

 - February 6, 2023, 11:15 AM
Missing some panels and systems, the Hürjet P1 prototype is towed out to begin engine running tests. (Photo: Turkish Aerospace)

Turkey's newest fast jet, the Turkish Aerospace Hürjet advanced trainer, has begun ground testing ahead of a first flight planned for March 18, the 107th anniversary of the battle of Çanakkale (Gallipoli). This is a significant date in Turkey, all the more so this year as it is also the 100th anniversary of the founding of modern Turkey by Kemal Atatürk.

The aircraft was rolled out in front of guests on January 31 and then completed its first engine run-up test. The president of Defense Industries, İsmail Demir, tweeted that, “Under the strong leadership of our President, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as the Turkish defense industry, our work continues at full speed in the 100th anniversary of our republic. Hürjet started its engine. Now it’s time to fly.”

The event followed the reveal of an aircraft, possibly the static test airframe, on December 23, but this had no engine, no tailplanes, and was without control surfaces. It was, however, the first time that the Hürjet had been seen with its landing gear attached. The P1 prototype is powered by a General Electric F404-GE-102 turbofan engine and is equipped with a large-area cockpit display.

Turkish Aerospace launched the Hürjet project in 2017, after participating in the so-called Freedom Trainer program with Sierra Nevada. The trainer was based loosely on the U.S. Air Force's TFX specification that led to the Boeing T-7A Red Hawk, and inevitably followed a similar design approach to that of the F-16, which has been built in large numbers by Turkish Aerospace.

The conceptual design was successfully completed in April 2018, with the preliminary design review following in July 2019, and the critical design review in February 2021. Assembly of the first prototype began in September 2021. There will be two flying prototypes, plus a static test airframe and one fatigue test specimen. Prototype P1 is due to make its first flight, and will be in the “minimum configuration”, with no mission or weapons system, and with avionics and cockpit from the Hürkus-B turboprop trainer. Prototype P2 is due to fly in December 2023 and will have a mission system and weapons system installed.

These first two aircraft are to be followed by four Block 0 pre-production aircraft in the advanced jet trainer (AJT) configuration. The first of them, TP1, is expected to fly in December 2024, with the remaining three following in 2025. There will be 12 Block 1 serial production aircraft (again in AJT configuration). The first six of them (HJA 1-6) are due to fly in 2028, with the remainder (HJA 7-12) following in 2029. Full-rate production is planned to begin in 2027.

The Hürjet is designed to serve in the AJT, Lead-in Fighter Trainer, Light Attack (Armed), Aerobatic Team Aircraft, adversary training, and light fighter roles. In Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish air force) service, it will replace the Northrop T-38 Talon in the advanced trainer role, the Northrop F-5s used by the "Turkish Stars" demonstration team, and will also complement the front-line General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon in the light attack and close air support roles. The exact breakdown of variants has not been decided, though at one stage there was expected to be a Hürjet-C armed variant.