Turkey’s landmark national fighter jet is on display at Asia’s biggest airshow as the country seeks to expand its defense engagement in the region.
The mock-up of the National Combat Aircraft (MMU) is being exhibited at the Singapore Airshow, which kicked off on Tuesday and will last until Friday.
It marks the first time that the jet is showcased in the Asian market, its developer, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), said in a statement.
The biennial event has bookended the pandemic, with the 2020 edition disrupted by the virus emerging from China and the latest show coming as the industry attempts to plot a way out of what became its biggest and most costly crisis.
The TAI is also exhibiting 1/7 mock-up models of other platforms it has developed.
The TF-X MMU will be unveiled for the first time on March 18, 2023, and is scheduled to make its maiden flight in 2026.
It is a fifth-generation jet with similar features to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II. The indigenous aircraft is being developed to replace the Turkish air force’s F-16 fighters as they are gradually phased out by the 2030s.
The TAI has been in an endeavor to expand collaborations in the Asian market in new generation technologies, particularly in the field of the defense industry and aviation.
The company in November opened an engineering and design office in Malaysia, its first in Southeast Asia. It has expanded its reach by establishing more than 10 technology offices around the world.
Turkish and Malaysian engineers will carry out joint studies in a number of areas such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), jet trainers, helicopter projects and modernization programs for the global aviation ecosystem.
“We attach importance to the Asian market,” said TAI CEO Temel Kotil. “We are determined to take important steps to accelerate our efforts to both increase our academic and production-oriented cooperation to strengthen our presence in this large market, including Malaysia and Kazakhstan.”
The TAI in November was reported to have struck a deal to sell three of its medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), Anka, to Kazakhstan.
The contractor is also engaged in the development of Hürjet, Turkey’s domestically developed advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft. It submitted a bid to the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) light combat aircraft (LCA) tender with Hürjet last year.
The project initially kicked off in 2017, and the jet is expected to make a maiden flight in 2023.
Its project portfolio also includes close air support and the training aircraft, Hürkuş.
The TAI has also manufactured ATAK, a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather tactical reconnaissance and attack helicopter as well as Turkey’s first indigenous multirole helicopter, the T625 Gökbey.
Anka's sale followed a military cooperation agreement between Turkey and Kazakhstan in May last year that foresees sharing tactical and experience of reconnaissance and attack unmanned aerial vehicles.
Works are underway on new business models to improve close relations with Asian countries in aviation, Kotil said.
“We will meet with military and civilian representatives from countries and companies that will participate in the Singapore Airshow and hold important talks to develop capacity.”