Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is in the final stage of assembling a prototype of the country’s first indigenously-developed fighter jet, the TF-X.
The first prototype of the stealthy TF-X, built under Turkey’s Milli Muharip Ucak (MMU) or National Combat Aircraft project, is now on the assembly line in Ankara, with the bulk of the fuselage and wings having been brought together.
“Our first National Combat Aircraft has entered the final assembly line!” Ismail Demir, head of Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB), tweeted Wednesday.
Photographs and videos shared by SSB show that the jet is still missing its twin engines, outward-canted tail fins and the horizontal stabilizers. While the cockpit canopy is seen installed, the cockpit itself is yet to receive its avionics and ejection seat.
The new combat aircraft is planned to leave the hangar on March 18, 2023. The first part of the production of the MMU was completed in November 2021. It will make its maiden flight in 2025 and enter duty in 2028.
TF-X’s size is somewhat in-between U.S.’ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and F-22 Raptor, with an overall length of 60 feet and a wingspan of 39 feet.
The MMU aircraft is planned to be kept operational in the Turkish Air Force inventory until 2070s and will be interoperable with other critical assets such as F-16.
On November 24, Turkey’s industry and technology minister Mustafa Varank announced that the computer for TF-X had been delivered to TAI. It was designed by the Informatics and Information Security Advanced Technologies Research Center (BİLGEM) under Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK).