Turkish ambitions unveiled with the TF-X model

It was announced that Turkish Aerospace Industries would unveil a full-size model of its 5th generation TF-X fighter program at the Paris Air Show. If this does not reveal anything that we do not already know, a plane close to the F35 in shape but twin engines, the declarations of the Turkish authorities on this occasion allow us to better understand the ambitions of the country in the military aeronautics field for the years to come .

For the moment, the T-FX is designed by Turkish design offices, with significant support from British industries, BAe for the airframe and flight system, and Rolls-Royce for the engines, as well as French, Turkish engineers using Dassault Systèmes design and simulation software. The aircraft was initially intended to replace the 250 F16s of the Turkish Air Force from 2026, but this schedule, and these objectives, risk being disrupted by the probable exclusion of the country from the F35 program, a consequence of the upcoming delivery of the first S400 batteries by Russia.

Therefore, the Turkish authorities today have a dual discourse, considering, like a Schrodinger's cat, to be simultaneously in and outside the Western bloc, not to mention NATO. In the now unlikely event that the S400 crisis does not lead to a split with Western countries, and in particular the program's European partners, Ankara wants to maintain its current organization, to be in a position for the second half of the decade in the future, to offer an efficient and inexpensive device to NATO countries as well as to the country's other partners, on a Western technological basis.

Otherwise, the country no longer hesitates to publicly address a possible rapprochement with Russia and China, to carry out its program. Thus, the option of the Izdellie 117 engine, which will equip the Su57, has already been discussed with the Russian authorities, in order to replace the engine derived from the Rolls-Royce EJ200 engine equipping the Typhoon. And if this option were retained, it would also seem coherent that Ankara's choice to replace its F4 Phantom fleet, which was to be replaced by the F35A, would be Russian Su57s, to respond to the operational emergency, while consolidating ties with Moscow.

It remains to be seen whether Turkish industry, even with the support of Russian and Chinese know-how, would actually be capable of designing and then building a 5th generation aircraft, knowing that it has, to date, never designed aircraft. of fight. Only time will tell...

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