TAI TF-X (F-X) Experimental Fifth Generation Fighter Concept
No longer content on purchasing foreign military goods, Turkey has undertaken local programs that look to stock the western Asian power from within.
Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
For decades, the modern Turkish air force relied on Western partners to stock its available inventory. Prospects changed when, during the 1980s, the government inked a deal that would allow local license production of the General Dynamics (now Lockheed) F-16 Fighting Falcon lightweight 4th Generation Fighter. This provided Turkish workers and engineers with the groundwork to further local aviation knowledge and experience which has ultimately evolved today to become a standalone operation with ever-growing capabilities for the nation of Turkey. As such, Turkey stands to distance itself from its reliance on foreign providers of its military requirements in the long term and has set its sights on an indigenous 5th Generation Fighter concept recognized under the "TFX" program name (also known as the "F-X"). Turkey now joins the United States, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea as the handful of nations committed to - or feeling out - the 5th Generation Fighter process. The primary goal of the Turkish program is to find a indigenous successor to the storied and excellent F-4 Phantom II and early-model F-16 platforms while also complementing the soon-to-be Lockheed F-35 "Lightning II" which the Turkish Air Force is expecting to procure in some number. The initial two-year concept phase for the TFX was begun in 2011. In March of 2013, Saab of Sweden was brought in to help support the TFX program from a technological standpoint. Tusas Engine Industries (TEI) is charged with production of the required powerplant.
As it stands today (2013), the TFX resides in three distinct conceptual forms. The foremost favored by the Turkish Air Force is a single-engined airframe with blended wing-to-fuselage lines, a forward-set single-seat cockpit and conventional main-and-tail wing appendages (as in the F-22's unique "diamond" shape). The lean towards a single-engined fighter would ease logistical commitments to the aircraft in both short-term procurement and long-term maintenance costs. The second concept largely borrows the same design though it features a larger fuselage to house the two required turbofan engines within a blended wing/fuselage design. All other facets of the concept remain faithful to the single-engined design. Of course a commitment to a twin-engined fighter would increase procurement costs and maintenance costs over the life of the aircraft though, in turn, providing higher performance and additional internal weapons bays. The third - and most radical - of the concepts becomes a canard-delta planform along a single-engined fuselage intended for high agility handling - similar to the Saab Gripen or Dassault Rafale.