Turkey launches competition for the engine of its next-generation TF-X combat aircraft

At the 2019 Paris Air Show, the model presented by Turkey of the TF-X program aiming to develop a new medium combat aircraft with characteristics close to the 5th generation, had caused a sensation, especially since it then seemed much more accomplished than that presented with great fanfare by France, Germany and Spain concerning FCAS program. However, between the consequences of the Covid crisis, and especially Western sanctions against Ankara following Turkish interventions in Syria and Libya, its provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean, and especially the acquisition of an S-400 battery from Russia, dealt a severe blow to the country's defense industrial ambitions and its President RT Erdogan. The latter has in fact made the revival of the Turkish defense industry a political marker of its action. Several major programs were thus severely handicapped, in particular because of the refusal of European and American companies to deliver motorization systems, whether for the frigates and corvettes of the MILREM program, the T-129 and T-629 helicopters, the Altay battle tank as well as the flagship program of this effort, the TF-X.

Initially, the prototypes of the new fighter were to be equipped with F-110 turbojet engines from the American General Electric, identical to that which propels the F-16 Block 50 which equip the Turkish air force and which have been produced locally under license for 30 years by TUSAS company. For the propulsion of series aircraft, the F-110 was also considered, but Ankara also approached the British Rolls-Royce in 2015 for local production with technology transfer of a turbojet engine derived from the Eurojet EJ-200 -A1 which equips the Eurofighter Typhoon. However, in 2017, well before the Western sanctions, the negotiations between the British engine manufacturer and Turkey were abandoned, the positions of the two protagonists being considered too far apart to succeed. The sanctioning of Ankara at the end of 2019, in particular concerning American turbojets, brought a halt to the TF-X program, and even if the Turkish authorities announced in public that they could turn to other partners, like russia, the reality was much more constraining. In this context, the war in Ukraine allowed Ankara to unblock the situation.

The TF-X model caused a sensation in June 2019 at the Paris Air Show

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