Turkish Kaan National Combat Aircraft Flies For The First Time

Kaan takes off for the first flight. (Photo: TAI)

Formerly known as TF-X, Kaan will replace the F-16 in the 2030s.

In the early morning of Feb.21, 2024, a little less than a year from its rollout, the prototype of the TF Kaan National Combat Aircraft flew for the first time, escorted by an F-16D acting as safety chase. The first flight of the Turkish 5th generation aircraft lasted just 13 minutes, with the aircraft reportedly reaching an altitude of 8,000 ft and a speed of 230 kts.

The indigenous design, developed by the Turkish Aerospace Industries’ Engineering Center, is intended to replace the Turkish F-16 fleet in the 2030s. The first mockup of the aircraft, highly reminiscent of the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, was unveiled in 2019, while the prototype was rolled out in March 2023.

Not much is known about Kaan’s specifications, other than an expected top speed of Mach 1.8, service ceiling of 55,000 ft and 58,000 lb of thrust provided by two F110-GE129 engines (the same used by Turkish F-16Cs Block 50). Kaan is designed to be interoperable with all the assets in service with the Turkish Air Force, including the F-35 should Turkey be readmitted in the JSF program.

The development of Kaan is considered as the most ambitious Turkish program in recent years. In fact, while Turkish industry have a significant experience in various fields, including the design, development and production of a wide array of pretty successful drones as well as in the licensed production of various types, a fully indigenous 5th generation fighter jet is a completely different endeavor.

Anyway, TAI is undergoing a rapid expansion, with new facilities inaugurated to support a multitude of needs, like the Composite Production Building, Space Systems Engineering Center, Factory-Level Component Maintenance and Control Center, and an Engineering Center. Among the many projects being worked on are the Hürjet National Jet Trainer that will replace the T-38, the Hürkuş turboprop trainer, as well as the T625 Gökbey utility helicopter and T129 attack helicopter.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.