Türkiye’s Fifth-Generation KAAN Fighter Jet Completes First Flight

23.02.2024 Products
Türkiye’s Fifth-Generation KAAN Fighter Jet Completes First Flight

Türkiye’s Fifth-Generation KAAN Fighter Jet Completes First Flight

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The Turkish public on Wednesday witnessed another defense industry milestone as the nation’s first indigenously developed fighter jet completed its first flight, part of the country’s efforts to upgrade its air force and curb external dependency.

Named KAAN, the fifth-generation warplane took off in the early hours on Wednesday (photo) and stayed in the air briefly before returning to an air base in north Ankara, according to a video shared by its developer, the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Daily Sabah reported.

The flight marks another “critical threshold,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.

“We experienced one of the proud days of the Turkish defense industry. Our homegrown combat aircraft, KAAN, successfully completed its first flight today. Türkiye crossed another critical threshold in producing a fifth-generation fighter jet,” Erdoğan told an event in the western Afyonkarahisar province.

The President added that Türkiye’s homegrown combat aircraft soared into the skies despite “those who dismissively compared parts of it to a radiator” and those trying to “sabotage” the project.

NATO member Türkiye launched its TF-X project to produce a national combat aircraft in 2016. TAI signed a deal with Britain’s BAE Systems worth $125 million in 2017 to develop the next-generation fighter jet.

Temel Kotil, the Head of TAI, said KAAN stayed in the air for 13 minutes and reached a speed of 230 knots at an altitude of 8,000 feet.

Earlier, the engineers carried out KAAN’s launch seat tests, full-length static tests, static tests of control surfaces, landing gear tests, avionic system tests, fuel tests, engine start up tests and taxiing tests.

Unveiled publicly last year, the jet is regarded as Türkiye’s most ambitious project to date. The warplane made a runway debut and completed its first taxi test after starting its engines for the first time in mid-March last year.

It is sought to replace the aging F-16 fleet in the inventory of the Air Forces Command, which is planned to be phased out starting in the 2030s.

The new fighter jet will initially be powered by two General Electric F-110 engines, which are also used on fourth-generation Lockheed Martin F-16 jets.

“Türkiye aims to use domestically produced engines, which are almost ready, on KAAN in serial production, with that expected to start in 2028,” Industry and Technology Minister Mehmet Fatih Kacır said in a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

It will be capable of air-to-air combat with new-generation weapons and precision strikes from internal weapon mounts at supersonic speed and will provide increased combat power with artificial intelligence and neural network support.

The jet will make Türkiye one of the few countries with the infrastructure and technology to produce a fifth-generation combat aircraft.

Türkiye recently secured a deal to procure 40 F-16 fighter jets and 79 modernization kits for its existing F-16s from the United States after a long-delayed process.

It first sought to purchase Lockheed Martin’s more advanced F-35 fighter jets, but the U.S. removed it from the multinational program to buy, and help develop and build the warplane in 2019 after it acquired S-400s from Russia.

Washington argued the air missile defense systems posed a risk to the advanced fighter jet, whereas Ankara insisted they would not be integrated into NATO systems. Türkiye had ordered about 100 F-35s and its companies were building some 900 parts for the fighter jet

Last month, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said Washington was open to welcoming Türkiye back into the F-35 fighter jet program if the issue over the S-400 air defense system is resolved.

The prolonged process over the F-16s led Türkiye to begin discussions to buy Eurofighter Typhoon jets. In November, it announced that it was in talks with Britain and Spain to buy 40 Eurofighter jets, though Germany has objected to the idea. Ankara has been urging Germany to align with the NATO spirit. 

(Daily Sabah; Photo © AA)



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