Turkey’s KAAN fighter jet conducts first flight

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 (BAES.L), opens new tab 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 (GE.N), opens new tab F-110 engines, which are also used on fourth-generation Lockheed Martin (LMT.N), opens new tab 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 (AIR.PA), opens new tab, BAE Systems and Leonardo (LDOF.MI), opens new tab.

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