The mock-up version of Turkey's first national fighter jet will be showcased for the first time at this year's Paris Air Show, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) General Manager Temel Kotil announced at the 14th International Defense Fair (IDEF).
Kotil indicated that they have progressed by establishing all infrastructure facilities in the National Fighter Jet Project.
"This is our biggest project. When we finish this, Turkey can say technologically it is no different from the U.S., Russia, and China," he stressed.
TAI continues its preliminary design works for the production of modern aircraft designed with domestic capabilities and that can replace the F-16 aircraft, which are in the inventory of the Turkish Air Forces Command and are considered to be gradually deactivated as of the 2030s.
For the development of the first national fighter jet, Turkey and the U.K. signed a memorandum of understanding during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to the U.K. on May 13-15, 2018.
The fifth-generation fighter jet will be realized within a project-based incentive system. Preliminary design activities received a TL 4.8 billion incentive certificate under the incentive program. The project will employ 3,200 people, with an indirect employment contribution estimated to be around 11,200. Turkey will, after the U.S., Russia and China, take its place among the countries in the world that have the infrastructure and technology to produce the fifth-generation fighter jet. Pointing to five ongoing helicopter projects, Kotil suggested that five years later, they would become the fourth or fifth largest helicopter manufacturer in the world.
"We have about 400 helicopter engineers. We are expanding our scope in this regard," Kotil said, underlining that they would also not abandon the production of aircraft parts which made the TAI what it is now.
"We will not stop making the small bolts for Boeing and Airbus, no matter how original products we manufacture," he continued. "We have learned a lot from these processes. The aircraft building will always continue. We will raise half a billion we make in exports to $2 billion." Kotil further commented on the developments regarding the F-35 program, saying, "We are a part of the F-35 program. Turkey's orders rank second in quantity." Kotil informed that they used their own resources to make Aksungur, a domestic unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a high-use load carrying capacity. "Aksungur made its first flight in 18 months. We will deliver it to the security forces at the end of the year," he added. Noting that the Atak-2 helicopter will have a total engine capacity of 6,000 horsepower, Kotil said that the engine needed will be domestic, but the project has not started yet.