TechTurkey's KAAN aircraft: A potential replacement for F-16, catching Ukraine's interest

Turkey's KAAN aircraft: A potential replacement for F‑16, catching Ukraine's interest

TAI KAAN Airplane
TAI KAAN Airplane
Images source: © Dimir, Lic. CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikipedia Commons
4:37 PM EST, February 15, 2024

The information about Ukrainian efforts to procure these latest European aircraft, such as the international programs like FCAS, which are at very preliminary stages, was relayed by Vasyl Bodnar, Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey.

According to Bodnar, negotiations began even before the conflict with Russia. Ukraine's interest lies in purchasing ready-made aircraft and taking part in their construction process. The ambassador expects Ukrainian companies to compete to provide engines for these new Turkish machines.

This is entirely unanticipated, considering that the present KAAN aircraft is powered by the American-made General Electric F110 engines, licensed and produced in Turkey. Moreover, the manufacturer indicates that new engines developed by a Turkish company, TR Motor, will be used eventually.

It is worthwhile to note that creating the new Turkish aircraft in a series might take several years. At present, the plane is undergoing the prototype testing phase. The first flight of the KAAN aircraft, which was initially planned for the end of 2023, has been delayed "for a few weeks", until all the ground tests of different aircraft systems are completed.

The Turkish schedule anticipates that the first serial aircraft of this type will enter service in 2033.

TAI KAAN airplane
TAI KAAN airplane© Dimir, Lic. CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

KAAN: A 5th Generation Aircraft

The KAAN is a 5th-generation Turkish fighter, previously developed under the name TF-X. It is being marketed as a versatile machine. However, its primary design was to provide a counter against enemy aircraft, often portrayed by its makers as an air superiority fighter.

With its appearance and twin-engine configuration, and measures about 62 feet in length and 60,000 pounds in weight, it resembles the American F-22 Raptor aircraft.

The original concept for the KAAN airplane was to swap out the currently used F-16 aircraft and work in coordination with Turkish F-35s. However, the United States blocked the sale of F-35s to Turkey due to Ankara's purchase of Russian air defense systems S-400.

TAI KAAN Airplane
TAI KAAN Airplane© TAI

A crucial part of the KAAN program is the development of an entire set of aerial weapons within the Turkish industry, a task undertaken by the GÖKTUĞ program. Ultimately, the goal is for Turkey to no longer rely on foreign partnerships and to equip its aircraft with its own air-to-air missiles of various classes, amongst other devices.

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