Saturday, December 2, 2023

Turkey launches competition for the engine of its new generation TF-X combat aircraft

During the 2019 Paris Air Show, the model presented by Turkey of the TF-X program aimed at developing a new medium combat aircraft with characteristics close to the 5th generation, caused a sensation, especially as it then seemed much more successful than that presented with great fanfare by France, Germany and Spain concerning the SCAF program. However, between the consequences of the Covid crisis, and especially Western sanctions against Ankara following Turkish interventions in Syria and Libya, its provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean, and especially the acquisition of an S-400 battery from Russia, dealt a severe blow to the industrial defense ambitions of the country and its president RT Erdogan. He has in fact made the revival of the Turkish defense industry a political marker of his action. Several major programs were thus heavily handicapped , in particular due to the refusal of European and American companies to deliver motorization systems, whether for the frigates and corvettes of the MILREM program, T-129 and T-629 helicopters, or the tank. combat Altay as well as that effort's flagship program, the TF-X.

Initially, the prototypes of the new fighter were to be equipped with F-110 turbojet engines from the American General Electric, identical to the one which powers the F-16 Block 50 which equip the Turkish air force and which have been produced locally under license for 30 years by the TUSAS company. For the propulsion of production aircraft, the F-110 was also considered, but Ankara also approached the British Rolls-Royce in 2015 for local production with technology transfer of a turbojet derived from the Eurojet EJ-200 -A1 which equips the Eurofighter Typhoon . However, in 2017, well before Western sanctions, negotiations between the British engine manufacturer and Turkey were abandoned, the positions of the two protagonists being considered too far apart to succeed. The sanctioning of Ankara at the end of 2019, in particular concerning American turbojets, put a stop to the TF-X program, and even if the Turkish authorities announced in public that they could turn towards other partners, such as Russia , the reality was much more restrictive. In this context, the war in Ukraine allowed Ankara to break the deadlock.

TF X Le Bourget
The TF-X model caused a sensation in June 2019 during the Paris Air Show

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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