A Look at Current Status of Turkish MMU/TF-X Program

The TF-X (Turkish Fighter-Experimental) a proposed single-seat, twin-engine all-weather multi-role fighter being developed by Prime Contractor TUSAŞ/Turkish Aerospace with technological assistance from BAE Systems. Turkish Aerospace refers to this program as the Turkish Fighter (TF) and exclude the “X” at the end of its title with an emphasis that it is no longer an Experimental aircraft.

Date: Issue 100 - August 2020

Unveiled for the first time via a full-sized mock-up (which was constructed by Turkish Aerospace-KALAY Joint Venture Company in Germany within 35 months, cost the company almost Euro2 Million [US$2.25 Million]) during the Paris Air Show(PAS) on June 17, 2019 and later in September 2019 at the Teknofest Istanbul, Turkey’s next generation National Combat Aircraft (abbreviated as MMU in Turkish), also known as TF-X, will replace the F-4E 2020 Phantom IIs and F-16C/D Fighting Falcon combat aircraft currently in the service of the Turkish Air Force (TurAF)during the first quarter of the 2030s. 

Featuring Low Observability and Supercruise capabilities and to be equipped with domestically developed systems and sensors, the MMU/TF-X will be a 5th Generation indigenous air superiority fighter with secondary ground attack capability. The TurAF currently operates some 30 F-4E 2020s (which were planned to be replaced by F-35As and to be phased out of TurAF service in 2020 but now expected to remain in the service until 2025) and 238 F-16C/D aircraft and Turkey is likely to procure some 150 to 200 TF-Xs in the long term to replace F-4E 2020s and F-16s. Since the F-16C/D combat aircraft, that forms the backbone of TurAF’s airpower, will be deactivated from the service starting from 2030 (Block 30 and Block 40 versions) and the deliveries of F-35As (procurement of up to 110 aircraft were planned) to TurAF has been halted by the US Government in 2019 the MMU/TF-X Program has became more important for the Turkey. In December 2019 the US Secretary of Defense has been authorized to fly up to 6 Turkish F-35As (tail numbers AT-01 to AT-06) to a storage location in the US and to induct these 6 aircraft into a long-term storage condition.