Turkey is 'open' to cooperation with a foreign partner on developing its 5th generation fighter jet provided the foreign entity meets its terms.
While speaking on Turkish broadcaster TRT Haber, Ismail Demir, head of Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), said that the “door is open for friendly and allied countries who want to be part of this project” that involves building the stealthy TF-X National Combat Aircraft (MMU).
“The design process (of the MMU) is currently ongoing and the country has already begun manufacturing several parts,” Demir added.
While SSB had always maintained that the TF-X fighter jet would be completely indigenous, it is known that Turkish industry lacks certain critical technologies required to take this project to fruition.
During the ARMY-2021 Forum in late August, Director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Dmitry Shugayev said Russia was holding consultations with Turkey to provide technology and expertise for Ankara’s ambitious TF-X fighter jet project.
Earlier, Turkey had announced that it selected French company Dassault Systems provide flight control software for the TF-X.
Relations between Turkey and its European NATO partners have soured lately over the former’s differences with Greece. France has taken the side of Greece in the Mediterranean dispute and supplied it with Rafale jets.
In June, Temel Kotil, general manager of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), which is the main contractor of the project, told government-owned Anadolu Agency that the production process is progressing well and that the prototype, which includes avionics, control and hydraulic systems, will be unveiled for the first time on March 18, 2023. Production of the MMU’s parts is to be completed by the end of 2022.
A ready-made engine will be used to power the fighter in the beginning. A new engine developed by TRMotor will be integrated into the aircraft later Kotil added. Turkey's Kale Group had previously launched a joint venture with UK's Rolls-Royce to develop and manufacture engines for the TF-X.
Demir had also said earlier on regarding engine procurement that British Rolls Royce had offered to develop engines for this particular aircraft in a certain partnership; however, not all the conditions were acceptable by Ankara.
SSB Aircraft Department Head Abdurrahman Şeref Can previously stated on a program that the project will progress in the form of "block" production and that the first aircraft to leave the hangar will for all intents and purposes be a fourth-generation jet.
TAI has tied up with many local and international firms to build the jet. Aselsan will provide avionics and computer hardware for the MMU, while TAI and Havelsan will develop software for the jet. The actuators, which provide movement of the wings and control surfaces in warplanes, will be produced by TAI in partnership with Altınay and a Ukrainian company. The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey’s (TÜBITAK) Information Security Advanced Technologies Research Center's (BILGEM) is developing the central computers. Pavotek, another Turkish company, is developing the power distribution system.
The hangar prepared for the combat aircraft is set to be completed this year. Due to the high confidentiality level of the MMU project, the hangar specifically tailored for the aircraft will be an isolated structure. It will have its own communication infrastructure and high-calculation computers.
TAI has formed a partnership to develop and produce the landing gear that will carry a load of 60 tons, which is the force emerging during landings.