Turkey sinks into denial over defense programs

By dint of wanting to play on several fronts at the same time, Ankara now seems to see the prospects for its ambitious defense programs colliding with the reality of international relations. Thereby, as part of the T-FX program to design a new generation fighter bomber to replace the older F-4s and F-16s, and which still expects to produce a first prototype by 2023, Turkish Defense Industries Director Ismail Demir announced on December 4 that the new aircraft would be powered, in its initial version, by the F-110 reactor of the American General Electric, the reactor which equips the F-16 and the F-15E in particular. And to specify that the production of the reactor would be carried out locally in the country on the basis of the industrial line already producing the F-118, a variant of the F-110 devoid of post-combustion.

However, it is very unlikely that Washington, and more particularly the US Congress, will authorize such an agreement between General Electric and the Turkish authorities, knowing that the tendency today would be rather to intensify sanctions in this area against Ankara. by opposing, for example, the sale of new F-16s and aircraft modernization kit to the Turkish Air Force. Recall that it was also the American Congress which, following the commissioning of the S-400 batteries acquired by Ankara from Russia, was in the process of forcing the Trump administration to definitively exclude Turkey from the F- program. 35, as well as to significantly reduce exports of American defense technologies to the country's industry, at the end of 2020, this having largely hampered the execution of several major programs, specifically the T-FX program. In addition, Ankara is said to be in negotiations to acquire a second batch of S-400s from Moscow, provoking the ire of American parliamentarians.

The full-size model of the T-FX program had made a big impression at the 2019 Paris Air Show, so successful it seemed. Unfortunately, the program has not addressed some crucial aspects like the powertrain since that date, and the prospect of seeing the prototype make its first flight in 2023 seems more and more hypothetical.


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