Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has released the official specifications of the TFX, officially known as the Milli Muharebe Uçağı (National Combat Aircraft).
As listed on the TAI website, the TFX will have a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 27,215 kg, length of 19 m and wingspan of 12 m. It will use two turbofan engines, each with 9072 kgf in thrust output.
In terms of performance, the TFX is to have an operational radius of over 1,111 km and a flight ceiling of over 16,764 m (i.e. 55,000 ft). It will have a maximum speed of Mach 2. TAI did not release the maximum payload or empty take-off weight of the TFX.
In its statement for the TFX’s profile, TAI stated that the TFX “is envisaged … [to] work with F-35A planes planned to enter the inventory of the Turkish Air Force,” adding that TFX production will run until 2070.
Under Ankara’s policy of domestically sourcing defence equipment, TAI and its Turkish industry partners aim to manufacture the TFX’s low radar cross-section airframe, engine, munitions, situational awareness elements and it sensor fusion inputs indigenously in Turkey.
On November 28, Turkey’s Minister of Defence (MoD) Nurettin Canikli said that TAI, the MoD and Turkey’s Undersecretariat of Defence Industries (SSM) remained committed to achieving a maiden test flight for the TFX in 2023, stating it was the “primary goal” of the Turkish government.
In January, the TAI and the SSM awarded BAE Systems a contract worth over £100 million to help design the TFX. Under the four-year contract, BAE is to provide “400 man/years” of engineering consulting and technical support work to TAI. Upon its completion, BAE is expected to receive another contract to support the development of the TFX in Turkey.
In regards to the TFX turbofan engine program, the Turkish MoD emphasized that it was still looking at its options. Although the UK government has provided an ‘Open General Export License’ to Turkey, enabling Rolls-Royce to partner with the private Turkish company Kale Group to form TAEC Uçak Motor Sanayi AS.
Co-owned by Kale Group (51%) and Rolls-Royce (49%), TAEC was formed in May to develop and produce a turbofan engine in Turkey for the TFX. MSI Turkish Defence Review reported that Rolls-Royce will also train 350 Turkish engineers and utilize Turkish technical capacities as part of the development process.
However, the Turkish MoD told journalists that Turkey is not looking to depend on one country on the TFX program, stating, “When you work with a single company, or when you depend on a single country, you could face different problems in certain stages of the project.”
The Turkish defence publication C4Defence reported on December 15 that TUSAŞ Engine A.Ş. (TEI) – which is co-owned by TAI (50.5%), General Electric (46.2%) and the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation and Turkish Aeronautical Association (3.3%) – has also submitted its own engine proposal to the SSM.
Although it is not known how the TEI turbofan program is slated to manifest, it should be noted that TEI is undertaking its own design and development work as well as licensed manufacturing. For example, for the Turkish T-70 Black Hawk helicopter program, TEI will manufacture the General Electric (GE) T700-GE-701D turboshaft engine under license. However, TEI is also spearheading the development of a 1,400 shp turboshaft engine for the TAI T-625 utility helicopter and TAI ATAK-2 attack helicopter.