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Turkey’s fifth-generation fighter plane takes off for maiden flight

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Turkey’s fifth-generation fighter plane takes off for maiden flight

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ISTANBUL — Turkey’s first locally made combat aircraft, dubbed Kaan, completed its maiden flight at Akinci Airforce Base near Ankara on Wednesday.

The CEO of manufacturer TUSAŞ, Temel Kotil, tweeted that the first flight took 13 minutes. The aircraft registered a speed of 230 knots and reached an altitude of 8,000 feet, according to Kotil.

Turkey initiated the combat aircraft development program in December 2010. A conceptual design contract was signed between SSM and TUSAŞ in August 2011. A development contract followed in August 2016.

The program aims to field a fifth-generation combat aircraft to meet Turkish Air Force requirements beyond 2030s, replacing the country’s F-16 fleet. Turkey aims to become one of the few countries possessing the entire value chain for making advanced combat aircraft, covering everything from technology, infrastructure, human resources and manufacturing capabilities.

With a wingspan of 14m (46ft) and length of 21m (69ft), Kaan is equipped with two engines. The prototype is powered by two General Electric F110-GE-129 turbofan engines, which are planned to be used in early production batches as well. Turkey is now working on the development of an indigenous turbofan engine for the Kaan by TRMotor.

The fighter program is planned to incorporate most of the characteristics of a standard fifth-generation aircraft, such as low observability, internal weapon bays, sensor fusion, advanced datalinks and communications systems. The aircraft are expected to be in service until the 2070s.

The current contract covers the initial four years of the program, which will be concluded with the completion of the preliminary design phase. Until then, further testing and technology maturation activities are on the schedule.

Cem Devrim Yaylali is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He is a keen photographer of military ships and has a passion for writing about naval and defense issues. He was born in Paris, France, and resides in Istanbul, Turkey. He is married with one son.

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