Turkish TAI Kaan fighter takes to the air and propels Turkish aviation industry into the elite

11 months after its first taxi, the new Turkish TAI Kaan fighter, from the TF-X program, made its first flight on February 20, according to the country's authorities. The flight itself lasted only 11 minutes, as a Turkish Air Force F-16D accompanied the prototype for its maiden flight, gear down, as it should be.

This is a great success for the Turkish defense aeronautical industry, and especially TAI which is piloting the program, and which comes barely 10 months later the first flight of the Hürjet training and attack aircraft, the first military aircraft equipped with a turbojet, designed by the country's industry.

The first flight of the TAI Kaan took place a year ahead of the initial schedule

While the initial schedule of the TF-X program provided for a first flight in 2025, this will have taken place this February 20, 2024, almost a year in advance. It marks the start of the second stage, flight tests, of the design of the aircraft intended to replace the F-16 C/D of the Turkish Air Force from the second half of the current decade.

21 meters long with a 14 meter wingspan, the TAI Kaan has an estimated maximum takeoff weight of 27 tonnes, placing it in the category of medium fighters, like the Rafale (25 tonnes), the Eurofighter Typhoon (23,5 tonnes) or the Super Hornet (29,9 tonnes), but also the South Korean KF-21 Boramae (25,5 tonnes) and the Chinese FC-31 (between 25 and 28 tonnes depending on the engine).

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The TAI Kaan has, in many respects, a lot of similarity with the South Korean KF-21 Boramae, which is currently completing its flight test phase, and is expected to enter industrial production soon.

It is powered by two American GE F110 turbojets, developing a thrust of almost 8 tonnes, and more than 13 tonnes with post-combustion, giving it a thrust-to-weight ratio close to 1, even when taking off in a heavy configuration of fight.

The avionics of the TFX Kaan are exclusively Turkish, with the now traditional, for modern devices, AESA radar, protection and electronic warfare systems and electro-optical detection system with infrared and video channel.

It is designed to use a wide range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and air-to-surface munitions, of Turkish manufacture, including the air-to-air missiles of the Görtüc program, the Kuzgun air-to-ground/surface munitions and the game Cakir. It is also expected to be able to employ the European Meteor air-to-air missile, and the British Spear air-to-ground missile.

Finally, like the Boramae, the device was designed to have enhanced discretion, without being able to be described as stealthy.

A real success for the Turkish military aeronautical industry and a promising export market

If the TAI Kaan still has a lot to demonstrate, particularly during the flight test phase, it therefore leaves, on paper, with serious arguments to seduce, even if its price also promises to be high , around $100 million per copy, according to certain Turkish statements, the price of a Rafale, Typhoon or a Super Hornet.

Hurjet before TAI Kaan
The Hürjet, the first Turkish-designed turbojet combat aircraft, made its first flight in April 2023, just 10 months ago.

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