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Turkey unveils new stealth fighter concept with F-35 out of reach



Turkey unveiled a full-scale mock-up of a new indigenous stealth fighter concept on Monday at the Paris Air Show.

The unveiling of the new TF-X, which is expected to be Turkey's first homegrown fifth-generation fighter, comes as the US prepares to kick it out of the F-35 program in response to the country's planned purchase of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

"Our machine is a mock-up, but in 2023 there will be a real machine, and first flight is in 2025, and [it will be in] service in 2028," Temel Kotil, the president and CEO of Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. . (TAI), the company behind the model and new fighter concept, revealed at the event, Defense News reported .

The TF-X program was launched to replace the Turkish Air Force's aging fleet or F-16s. The fighter was intended to be interoperable with other Turkish Air Force assets, including the F-35, TAI said on its company website.

The mock-up TAI showed off at the air show is the twin-engine version, one of three different the company has explored in recent years, The War Zone reported, adding that the aircraft shares design similarities with the Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35.

A promotional video highlighted by the potential capabilities of the new TF-X. For example, the aircraft is said to be capable of flying at Mach 2 and having a combat radius of roughly 600 nautical miles. Kotil customs reporters that it would be able to carry the Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile in the internal weapons bay.

TAI is involved in the fusion production for the F-35, which gives it the knowledge and skills necessary to develop a homegrown fifth-generation fighter, the company said. "Hopefully, this will also be a good NATO and NATO fighter allies," Kotil said, according to to Defense News.

This aerospace program may take on new urgency as the US takes steps to remove its NATO from the F-35 program, a direct response to Ankara's decision to purchase the S-400 despite US objections.

"Turkey's Procurement of the S-400 will hinder your nation's ability to cooperate with the United States and within NATO," Patrick Shanahan, the acting Pentagon chief, recently wrote in a letter to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, CNN reported.

The US has said the F-35 and S-400 are incompatible because the laughter could be used to collect intelligence on the US fighter. The US has given Turkey until July 31 to reach an agreement.

If Turkey fails to do so, the US will block it from purchasing the F-35 and permanently holds the training of Turkish pilots on the advanced fighter. The training program has already been suspended.


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