Turkey’s KAAN Fighter Set for Maiden Flight Before April

KAAN's highly anticipated first flight on December 27, 2023 was postponed indefinitely
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 10:39 AM, February 3, 2024
  • 760
Turkey’s KAAN Fighter Set for Maiden Flight Before April
KAAN fighter @Turkish media

Turkey's fifth-generation fighter, the "KAAN," is expected to undergo its maiden flight by the end of March, following a series of delays and setbacks.

Temel Kotil, CEO of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), announced the anticipated timeline to local media, citing the need for the aircraft to undergo "several crucial tests" before taking to the skies.

Initially scheduled for a maiden flight in late December 2023, the National Combat Aircraft (MMU) KAAN faced a last-minute cancellation after ground tests and taxi tests revealed issues that needed addressing. The project, initiated in 2016, has undergone extensive testing phases, including ejection seat tests, static tests, landing gear drop tests, avionics system tests, and engine starting tests.

The detailed program calendar of MMU KAAN indicates that the project's initial conditions were met in 2018, and Phase-1, covering preliminary design activities, occurred between 2018 and 2022. The ongoing Phase-2, from 2022 to 2029, involves detailed design and qualification activities, with the aim to produce three prototypes by 2026. Currently, assembly activities for the second and third prototypes are underway at TAI facilities.

The Block-10 configuration, targeted for development by 2029, is intended for the Air Forces Command. TAI revised the delivery date of ten KAAN Block-1 warplanes from Phase-2 to 2028, moving it forward from the initially announced timeline of 2030-2033. In Phase-3, scheduled for 2034-2040, development and mass production activities for other KAAN blocks will take place.

TAI announced the commencement of assembly activities for the second and third prototypes of the National Combat Aircraft KAAN in early December 2023, marking a significant step in the ambitious defense project. The second KAAN prototype is expected to be completed in the first half of 2024, and the integration of airworthy landing gear and the flight control computer into the first KAAN prototype has already been accomplished, with the aircraft leaving the hangar for the first time in May 2023.

Designed to replace the existing F-16 aircraft in the Air Forces Command inventory, the KAAN, formerly known as TF-X, is a sizable aircraft with a length of 21 meters and a maximum speed of 1.8 Mach. Equipped with twin engines generating 13,000kg thrust each, the KAAN is strategically designed to engage both air-to-air and air-to-ground targets, featuring a wholly domestic infrastructure for secure data sharing and the use of smart munitions.

The aircraft incorporates features like high-performance radar, electronic warfare capabilities, electro-optics, communication, navigation, and identification systems, promising increased combat power with precise and accurate firing from internal weapon slots at high/supersonic speeds. Additional features include automatic target recognition and detection, multiple data fusion, and artificial intelligence capabilities.

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