The Turkish company Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) demonstrated a prototype fighter of the fifth generation TAI TF-X / MMU, which is already being built on the company’s assembly line.

In the photo and video you can see the assembled part of the fuselage, center wing and wings. Engines are not yet installed. According to the schedule, the prototype should be ready for ground tests in March 2023. The date of the first flight of the TAI TF-X is not yet known.

TAI TF-X fighter, also known as Milli Muharip Uçak (literally “National Combat Aviation”) is being developed as a replacement for the F-16 Fighting Falcons of the Turkish Air Force and should work together with the fifth generation fighters, from the purchase of which Turkey has so “elegantly” refused.

TAI TF-X conceptual development began back in 2011. In 2015, three concepts were presented: FX-1, similar in design to the Lockheed Martin F-22; FX-5, similar to the General Dynamics F-16 and FX-6, which had characteristics similar to the Saab JAS 39 Gripen. On January 8, 2015, it was announced that the TF-X would be based on the FX-1 concept, meaning it would be a twin-engined fighter jet that followed the design of the fifth-generation American fighter jets.

TAI TF-X / MMU: a Turkish fighter of the fifth generation

Eurojet with the EJ200 engines used by the Eurofighter Typhoon, Rolls-Royce, and General Electric with the F110 engine, used by the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, Grumman F-14 Tomcat, McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle and Mitsubishi F-2 were competing for the role of engine supplier for the future fighter. As a result, the initial copies of the TAI TF-X should use General Electric F110 engines, and later Turkey hopes to establish local production. The competition, which is still ongoing, involves Turkish companies TRMotor (a division of Tusaş Engine Industries), Turkish Air Engine Company (TAEC) and the Kale Group and Rolls-Royce consortium.

They say that the Russian Rostec and the United Engine Building Corporation also wanted to participate in the competition, but something did not work out there. What could it be?

TAI TF-X / MMU: a Turkish fighter of the fifth generation

Production of the first TAI TF-X / MMU began a year ago, on November 4, 2021.

Little is currently known about the TAI TF-X / MMU’s specifications, except that it is supposed to be a fifth-generation fighter, with a “full package of Turkish electronics” and “artificial intelligence.” And then only general requirements are known: improved aerodynamics; super cruise; sufficient and optimized combat radius; advanced multispectral sensors; elements of stealth technologies; sensors autonomy and fusion; improved data-link capabilities; the use of high-precision weapons.

Engine integration and test driving of the TAI TF-X / MMU is planned to take place in 2023, and the first flight of the new fighter is scheduled for 2025.

TAI TF-X / MMU: a Turkish fighter of the fifth generation

Expected specifications of TAI TF-X / MMU
Crew – 1 or 2 pilots
Length – 21 m
Wingspan – 14 m
Height – 6 m
Wing area – 60 m2
Maximum take-off weight – 27,215 kg
Power plant – 2 × General Electric F110 for test flights (local engines to be developed by TAEC) , 120 kN (27,000 lbf) thrust each
Maximum speed – 2470 km/h or Mach 2
Combat range – 1,100 km
Service ceiling – 17,000 m
g limits: +9.0 g and -3.5 g
Weapons – the entire assortment of high-precision missiles and bombs of Turkish production