TechTurkey's fifth-generation fighter KAAN takes maiden flight, marking a significant milestone in the aerospace industry

Turkey's fifth-generation fighter KAAN takes maiden flight, marking a significant milestone in the aerospace industry

Maiden flight of KAAN.
Maiden flight of KAAN.
Images source: © Getty Images | Anadolu
3:22 PM EST, February 21, 2024

This achievement marks a tremendous success for the program managed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) since 2010 in coordination with British BAE Systems. The Turkish partners had also previously attempted to collaborate with South Korea, which is in the process of developing its own fifth-generation fighter, KF-21 Boramae, and with Swedish Saab.

Renamed KAAN, the prototype of the TF-X demonstrator was completed in mid-2023. However, due to some design elements that needed to be reinforced, the prototype's maiden flight was delayed for several months after the taxiing trials.

The first flight of KAAN occurred on February 21, 2024. Describing the mission's success, pilot Barbaros Demirbaş commented, "the mission was accomplished." Adding to the accolade, the project chairman applauded everyone involved in the test flight, emphasizing that this marked just the beginning of their work.

KAAN - Turkey's Counterpart to the F-22 Raptor

As per the schedule—provided there are no delays—Turkey's new fighter is slated to enter serial production between 2028 and 2030. The new machine's design is poised to replace the F-16 and F-4E-2020 Terminator in Turkish aviation. Additionally, in recent months, Ukraine has shown interest in joining the Turkish program both as a customer and a collaborator.

In design, KAAN bears a striking resemblance to the American F-22 Raptor, featuring a classic twin-engine design with vertical stabilizers. However, the Turkish fighter will be slightly smaller. With a length of 62 feet and a wingspan of approximately 39 feet, KAAN is comparatively smaller than the F-22 Raptor's 45 feet. While the Turkish machine will not be light—weighing about 30 tons—the use of two engines and enough fuel for a range exceeding 621 miles significantly contributes to its weight.

Like other fifth-generation machines, KAAN will be furnished with internal weapon bays designed to house a wide range of domestic weaponry, equipped for combat both in the air and on the ground. Alongside this, KAAN has the capability to achieve speeds over Mach 2, supported by modern radar with active electronic scanning (AESA), and the Infrared Search and Track (IRST) system. This will result in a highly effective platform capable of tracking and engaging other stealth technology aircraft.

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