Turkish defense industry companies have combined their capabilities for the National Combat Aircraft (MMU), a fifth-generation indigenous stealth fighter jet and one of the country’s long-awaited technology projects.
Temel Kotil, general manager of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), which is the main contractor of the project, told Anadolu Agency (AA) 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.
“We have Aselsan for avionics and computer hardware, we have Havelsan for software, TAI also has its software team,” he said.
The actuators, which provide movement of the wings and control surfaces in warplanes, are the result of a partnership established by TAI, Altınay and a Ukrainian company JSC “FED”.
Ukrainian company, FED is reported to have signed a contract with Turkish Aerospace for the TF-X project. Viktor Popov, Chairman of the Board of FED was quoted as saying during IDEF 2021. “We participate in the TF-X (Turkish Fighter Experimental) program. It is a fifth-generation aircraft, a fighter. It is also a huge job, very short deadlines. This means that we are fully loading our engineers, technologists, and production.”
JSC “FED” is equipped with modern precision production equipment of world brands, including South Korean Doosan.
TAI is working to produce the transparent canopy surrounding the cockpit locally, Kotil continued and said: “There is a very effective radar in the nose of the plane. We gave this task to Aselsan, they are working on it. There are sensors on the plane, produced by both Aselsan and Havelsan.”
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. Kotil said they are utilizing all the capabilities available in Turkey for this aircraft.
“Building a fighter aircraft means putting all the contributing elements into the action,” he said, as TAI’s main role is to design and complete the geometry.
Manufacturing combat aircraft also means domestic production, “For this reason, we are including Turkish companies in the project as much as possible and entering into contracts with them,” he said.
While Turkey’s Defense Industries Presidency which is spearheading the project has 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.
Kotil went on to say that the MMU consists of 20,000 parts and stated that a ready-made engine will be used at the beginning, and then the engine to be developed by TRMotor will be integrated into the aircraft.
The company 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.
The TF-X MMU is a fifth-generation jet with similar features to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II. The domestically-built aircraft is being developed to replace the Turkish Air Forces Command’s F-16 fighters, ahead of the gradual phasing out of the latter throughout the 2030s.
TRMotor signed the deal with the prime contractor of the TF-X program, Turkish Aerospace Industries, another state-controlled defense company.
The deal comes as SSB is holding talks to co-produce an engine with a consortium of the British company Rolls-Royce and Turkish firm Kale Group.
At the IDEF 2021 event, it was revealed that the TF-X development project has reached the System Requirements Review (SRR) phase and will be follow by the System Functional Review and Preliminary Design Review.
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