Turkey’s KAAN fighter jet conducts first flight

By Thomson Reuters Feb 21, 2024 | 4:36 AM

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s KAAN, its first national combat aircraft, completed its first flight on Wednesday, part of the country’s efforts to upgrade its air force.

NATO member Turkey launched its TF-X project to produce a national combat aircraft in 2016. Turkish aerospace firm TUSAS signed a deal with Britain’s BAE Systems worth $125 million in 2017 to develop the next-generation fighter jet.

TUSAS shared a video showing a KAAN fighter jet taking off and then returning to an air base in the north Ankara.

“With KAAN, our country will not only have a fifth generation fighter jet, but also technologies that few countries in the world have,” Haluk Gorgun, head of Turkey’s Defence Industries Directorate (SSB), said in a post on social media platform X.

The new fighter jet will initially be powered by two General Electric F-110 engines, which are also used on fourth-generation Lockheed Martin F-16 jets.

Turkey aims to use domestically produced engines on KAAN in serial production, Gorgun has said, with that expected to start in 2028.

Turkey recently secured a deal to procure 40 F-16 fighter jets and 79 modernisation kits for its existing F-16s from the United States, after a long-delayed process.

The U.S. imposed sanctions on NATO member Turkey’s defence industry in December 2020 over its acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system and expelled Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet program, where it was a manufacturer and buyer.

Ankara is also interested in buying 40 Eurofighter Typhoon jets, built by a consortium of Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain, represented by Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo.

(Reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever; editing by Burcu Karakas and Jason Neely)