Turkiye’s KAAN 5th Gen fighter jet conducts its historic first flight, marking a milestone in aviation technology and national defense capabilities.

Turkiye’s KAAN 5th Gen fighter jet conducts first flight

Turkiye’s recently reached a major milestone, the nation’s first domestically built 5th Gen fighter jet, named KAAN, successfully conducts its first flight.

The fifth-generation fighter jet took off from an air base in Ankara and was airborne for 13 minutes, reaching a speed of 230 knots at an altitude of 8,000 feet. This achievement comes six years after Turkey launched the TF-X national fighter jet development program in 2016.

KAAN’s first flight marks a critical threshold for Turkey’s defense industry ambitions, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.

Turkiye has crossed an important milestone despite skepticism and sabotage attempts targeting the project.

Collaboration with International Partners

The aircraft is being developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), which signed a $125 million deal with Britain’s BAE Systems in 2017 to collaborate on building the next-generation warplane.

Replacing Aging F-16 Fleet

KAAN seeks to eventually replace Turkey’s aging F-16 fleet, with the goal of phasing out the F-16s beginning in the 2030s. The new fighter jet will be capable of air-to-air combat and precision strikes at supersonic speeds using artificial intelligence support.

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The jet will initially use two General Electric F-110 engines, also used on F-16s. Turkey aims to utilize domestically produced engines for KAAN once serial production begins in 2028.

Testing Milestones Achieved

Prior to its first flight, KAAN underwent extensive ground testing, including engine starts, taxi tests, and tests of critical systems. Its maiden flight comes a year after the aircraft completed its first engine start and taxi test in March 2022.

Elevating Turkey’s Defense Capabilities

With the advanced technologies incorporated into KAAN, Turkey will join the small group of nations possessing fifth-generation fighter jet capabilities and the infrastructure to domestically produce such aircraft.

Alternative Fighter Jet Options

The project has taken on increased importance after Turkey was expelled from the F-35 program in 2019 over its acquisition of Russian S-400 missile systems. This led Turkey to seek alternative solutions to upgrade its air force.

While Turkey recently struck a deal to purchase 40 new F-16s from the United States, it maintains interest in procuring Eurofighter Typhoons from a European consortium as part of its efforts to bolster its aerial combat capabilities.

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