TechTurkey eyes global market with new KAAN fighter after F-35 snub

Turkey eyes global market with new KAAN fighter after F‑35 snub

KAAN - example photo
KAAN - example photo
Images source: © Getty Images | Anadolu
Norbert Garbarek

8 July 2024 20:24

According to a US declaration, Turkey has been excluded from the delivery programme of the modern F-35 fighter jets. Ankara decided to produce its own (and supposedly better) aircraft. Now, specific data regarding the production of these machines have emerged.

Let's recall that tension between the US and Turkey began to appear shortly after the Ukraine war outbreak. The bone of contention was the Russian S-400 air defence systems purchased by Turkey. The United States insisted that the weapons be handed over to Ukraine, but Ankara did not agree to this proposal.

Ultimately, Turkey issued an official declaration (after unofficial negotiations) stating that the S-400 would not be exported to any country, including Ukraine. The main reason for this decision was Ankara’s desire to maintain good relations with Moscow.

US excluded Turkey from the F-35 jet deliveries

The Americans did not leave Turkey's declaration unanswered. In response, the US decided to exclude Turkey from the F-35 production and delivery programme. Despite proposed settlements, Ankara did not change its stance. Although, in theory, the exclusion of Turks from access to the latest fighter jets was a blow to Ankara's military potential, the authorities quickly found a solution. Turkey decided to build its fifth-generation fighter jet. They called it KAAN, and according to Temel Kotil, the CEO of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), it is "better than the F-35".

Now, however, the producer of the Turkish KAAN fighter spoke with the Gdh TV station about the ambitious plans related to the production of the aircraft. According to Mehmet Demiroğlu from TAI, the number of orders for the Turkish fifth-generation fighter could rise to several hundred units.

Turks are looking for customers on the international market

Demiroğlu explains that at this moment, the Turkish Air Force will buy 100 KAAN fighters. However, TAI does not intend to focus solely on the domestic market and plans to seek customers on the international market.

– Our goal is to deliver the same number, perhaps more, to our friendly and allied countries, about 150 aircraft – said Demiroğlu. Ultimately, the company expects to receive another 300 orders for KAAN aircraft.

As noted by the Bulgarian Military portal, one of Turkey's potential partners is primarily Azerbaijan, with whom Ankara signed a cooperation agreement last summer. Orders for KAAN may also come from Pakistan. The first Turkish fifth-generation fighters will reach their army by 2028. The delivery will consist of 20 units. After 2030, a significant increase in production pace is expected.

Little is known today about the Turkish KAANs. According to publicly available information, this currently developing fighter jet will be capable of carrying 10,000 kilograms of ammunition, which is 4,000 kilograms more than its counterpart – the F-35. Additionally, KAAN is powered by two engines, allowing it to perform better than the American competitor. It is worth noting, however, that at this moment, the KAAN is powered by engines from the USA, the General Electric F110-GE-129. In the coming years, however, they will be replaced by a unit produced by the Turks.

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