Turkey's Locally Developed Fifth-Generation Fighter Jet KAAN Takes First Test Flight

Turkey's first fifth-generation fighter jet, named KAAN, successfully conducted its first test flight on February 21, 2024. The aircraft was piloted by Commander Barbaros Demirbas of the Turkish Air Force under the supervision of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). This maiden flight, which lasted 11 minutes, reached an altitude of 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) and a speed of 230 knots (425 kilometers per hour).


KAAN is slated to be a fifth-generation fighter jet with a low-observability design, the ability to carry weapons inside and outside the fuselage, an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, supercruise, and advanced data link capabilities. The KAAN program aims to modernize the Turkish fighter fleet and enhance national defense capabilities to meet the strategic needs of the Turkish Armed Forces.

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The development of the TF-X began in 2010 but experienced several interruptions and delays. However, the process accelerated significantly in 2019 after Turkey was excluded from the F-35 program. The country unveiled the first prototype of the KAAN on May 1, 2023, and the first flight was planned to be conducted on December 27, 2023. Turkey's involvement in the F-35 program was terminated on July 18, 2019, due to a disagreement with the United States over purchasing the Russian S-400 missile system. As a result, the Turkish Air Force has been looking for alternative options to upgrade its fighter fleet, including its current F-16 fleet. On January 26, 2024, Turkey was allowed to purchase 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper fighter jets and other equipment for around $23 billion.

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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, with that expected to start in 2028. In conclusion, the successful maiden flight of KAAN marks a significant milestone in Turkey's efforts to upgrade its air force and develop its own fifth-generation fighter jet. This development not only enhances the country's national defense capabilities but also signifies Turkey's growing prominence in the global aviation industry.

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