TF-X: Turkey's new stealth fighter is a big unknown

Ever since the Turkish Aerospace Industries factory announced the creation of its newest stealth fighter platform, the TF-X, the military world has been on the lookout.

Turkey’s ability to manufacture its own fleet of fifth-generation aircraft has proven strong, having delivered domestically produced Bayraktar TB2 combat drones to Ukraine. Now, the long-awaited presentation of the first prototype of the TF-X is approaching.

Ankara’s ambition to become a dominant arms and equipment manufacturer led to the TF-X creation. This new-generation indigenous air superiority fighter aims to replace the Turkish Air Force’s aging fleet of F-16 jets

 But, following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 defense system, Washington withdrew Ankara from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

TF-X presentation

The presentation of the first prototype of the TF-X could be a breakthrough for Turkey’s arms production. Aviation aficionados have already examined available images of the airframe and discovered a unique arrangement in the fighter’s design that could offer significant advantages, such as an “infrared search and track” (IRST) sensor system at the front end. Fuselage and a multipurpose electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) under the forward fuselage.

In addition to its networked drone control capabilities and a modern internal weapons bay, the TF-X boasts state-of-the-art radar and ground attack capabilities.

We don’t know much about it.

Although initially, there was talk of a possible partnership between the British manufacturer Rolls-Royce and Turkish Aerospace Industries, the platform finally features the same US-made General Electric F110 engines that power the fourth-generation Turkish F-16s.

Congress resists sending additional F-16s

Turkey’s current fleet consists mainly of F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters, first purchased in the 1980s. But Ankara has requested the purchase of 40 additional F-16s and some 80 retrofit kits for its current airframes, although the US Congress has set conditions for sale.

The TF-X platform, made in Turkey, could be the solution Ankara needs to meet its aviation needs and support its military ambitions in the Aegean Sea. Are we about to witness the presentation of a new weapon from Turkey?