The UK has reportedly backed Turkey in its pursuit of developing the fifth-generation TF-X fighters amid the latter’s tensions with Greece. British aerospace company BAE Systems is involved in the project.
Reports suggest, Britain, after its exit from the European Union, is seeking to claim its role in world affairs. It is now supporting Ankara’s efforts of building the TF-X fighter, which is likely to pose a threat to its Mediterranean neighbor Greece.
The situation in the eastern Mediterranean has been tense with Turkey and Greece involved in a dispute over energy exploration rights and maritime boundaries in the area.
In addition, the two nations have constantly wrangled over military games in the region despite being part of the NATO alliance.
In a bid to boost their military strength, Athens has gone ahead with plans of acquiring newer fighters like the French-made Rafales and completed deals for procuring additional Seahawk helicopters from the United States.
In addition, Greece has also enquired about the possibility of acquiring fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighters from the US, which if comes to fruition, will be salt on the wounds for Turkey, given that it was expelled from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
Perhaps, Turkey wants to project the TF-X fighter as its answer to the YS F-35 fighter.
According to Greek website Pentapostagma, the British Ambassador to Turkey Sir Dominick Chilcott had confirmed how the fighter jet program’s main partner, BAE Systems was delighted over how things were going so far in the development of the fighter.
Chilcott said he hoped that Rolls Royce, which provides engines for Britain’s sixth-generation Tempest fighter, would do the same for the Turkish fighter.
“We hoped that Rolls-Royce would design a new engine to take full advantage of its potential as a fifth-generation fighter aircraft,” said Chilcott.
However, according to Chilcott, the British government has not yet finalized as to who will design the engine for the fighter. He says that the second phase of the program would involve the production of the prototype following the recent agreement between the two nations.
“I think this stage will probably start in late 2021 or early 2022,” said Chilcott.
The fifth-generation TF-X (Turkish Fighter – Experimental) is a combat fighter that is currently being developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for the Turkish Air Force and will be exported to other countries as well.
The proposed stealth twin-engine all-weather air superiority fighter is being developed in collaboration with BAE Systems, with its full-scale mock-up displayed at the Paris Air Show back in June of 2019.
The fighter is said to have a length of around 19 meters, with a wingspan of approximately 12 meters, apart from having a maximum altitude of approximately 55,000 feet.
According to the Turkish Defence Ministry, the fighter is scheduled to make its first flight by 2023, with reports suggesting that it will be rolled out with two GE F110 engines.
The fighter is expected to replace the existing fleet of F-16 Falcon fighter jets in service with the Turkish Air Force and likely to meet the nation’s requirements for air combat until the year 2070.
According to sources, the fighter jet will possess superior attack capabilities as well as stealth technology, which will enable the fighter to avoid being detected on enemy radars.
It may also have features such as sensor fusion, improved situational awareness, internal weapon bays, and high maneuverability.
According to reports, the potential partners or buyers of the TF-X fighter include Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan.