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Thread: Turkish Air Force - News & Discussion

  1. #1
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    Turkish Air Force - News & Discussion

    A new thread for news & discussion related to developments in Turkey.

    To start with, the most recent news is for the project of a jet trainer / fighter aircraft. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) will be main contractor. Concept design phase is expected to take 2 years, with USD 20,000,000 budget.

    According to the statement of MoD Vecdi Gonul, the aircraft will supplement F-16 (CCIP'ed ones) and F-35 after 2020's and replace F-4E's (F-4E 2020, F-4ETM) and F-16 Block 30s.




    Turkey to build ‘national, original’ fighter aircraft

    ÜMİT ENGİNSOY
    ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News



    Turkey's top defense procurement committee decided late Wednesday that Ankara would develop and manufacture its next air-to-air fighter aircraft, either by itself or in cooperation with another country, Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül said.

    Gönül told reporters after a meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee that the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Turkey's procurement agency, would start talks with Turkish Aerospace Industries, the country's main aerospace company, for a "conceptual design" of a fighter aircraft and a jet trainer to be built after the year 2020.

    "This … effectively is a decision for the making of Turkey's first fighter aircraft," he said.

    Committee members include Gönül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Chief of the General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner and procurement chief Murad Bayar.

    Gönül also said Turkey has rejected an offer by the Eurofighter consortium for the sale of Eurofighter Typhoon fighters. "The Eurofighter is off Turkey's agenda," he said.

    The minister said Turkey may cooperate with South Korea, but implied that this is a small possibility. "We can manufacture the new fighter aircraft with them, we don't rule this out. But the decision we have taken now calls for the production of a totally national and original aircraft," he said.

    The Eurofighter consortium, the Italian government and Italian companies had recently stepped up efforts for joint development and sale to Turkey of up to 60 jets. Italian Deputy Defense Minister Guido Crosetti in October said Rome wanted to develop a fighter aircraft with Turkey.

    Seeking equal partnership

    Separately, Turkish and South Korean officials earlier have said that Turkey, South Korea and Indonesia jointly may develop the South Korean-led KF-X fighter aircraft.

    But Turkey is now stepping back from this option. "What we need is a true and equal partnership for the development of a fighter. The problem is that South Korea is not likely to agree to an equal partnership," a senior Turkish procurement told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    Turkey already has selected the U.S.-led F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II as one of its next-generation fighter aircraft types. It plans to buy about 100 F-35 aircraft worth nearly $15 billion. Many Turkish companies are members of the Joint Strike Fighter consortium of nine Western countries, and are producing parts for the aircraft. Turkey also will receive 30 modern F-16 Block 50 fighters from Lockheed Martin as a stopgap solution until F-35 deliveries begin around 2015.

    Minister Gönül said Turkey's newly designed fighter aircraft "would be a next-generation type, would replace the [U.S.-made] F-4Es and would function well with the F-16 and the F-35." He therefore confirmed that the new aircraft mostly would be meant for air-to-air fighting.

    Meanwhile, a much expected selection of the military's next utility helicopter type did not come at the Defense Industry Executive Committee meeting. AgustaWestland and Sikorsky Aircraft are vying for the joint manufacture of 109 helicopters, worth up to $4 billion.

    "The offers … were insufficient," Gönül said. "Talks with both companies will continue, but we think that they should reduce their prices."
    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.p...aft-2010-12-16

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    I guess that's good, no need for Turkey to start relying on everything Korean, which is what it seems to do these days


    perhaps Turkey should ask Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan to join and make it a Turko fighter.

    what kind of air bases does Turkey use in defense to Bulgaria by the way?

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    Quote Originally Posted by J-7 Hotdog View Post
    what kind of air bases does Turkey use in defense to Bulgaria by the way?
    Balikesir and Bandirma main jet bases are responsible from west - northwest sector with a number of FOB's.

    http://orbat.com/site/maps/map_files/turkeyafbases.gif

    http://scramble.nl/tr.htm

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    Last edited by medal64; 17th December 2010 at 22:54.

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    Malazgirt Unmanned Helicopter

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    Turkish Aerospace Industries, TAI

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    http://www.tai.com.tr/taimain.aspx

    Courtesy of militaryphotos...
    Last edited by medal64; 17th December 2010 at 16:08.

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    TAI Anka UAV introduction video...

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3jTE...layer_embedded
    Last edited by medal64; 17th December 2010 at 22:17.

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    Interesting that Turkey should decide to go it alone or seek a partner for the new fighter. Several questions come to mind and a respectful discussion on them would be interesting.

    1) How much will such a program's total cost be and can Turkey afford it all on its own?
    2) Will it be a 5th gen fighter or a 4.5 gen fighter like the KF-X ?
    3) Single Engine or double engine ? As of now a twin engine seems likely which is different from the KF-X.
    3) Since Turkey has no turbofan development program ongoing, they will look to source it from abroad like South Korea. Who will they source engines from? US or Europe?
    4) Considering the aircraft it will replace (F-4 and F-16 Block 30) the aircraft will likely be in the 8 ton-12 ton empty weight category and require 2 X F-414, M-88-2/3 or Ej-200 type engines. or will they seek a single engined design with the F-35's F-135 or F-136 engines
    4) What experience does Turkey have in fast jet design and development? Ranging from avionics to airframe, developing a fighter is a very time consuming, costly and difficult process, especially without an experienced partner to hold hands and guide through the process. How risky will this be for the TAF and how realistic is 2023 as a date for entry into service, when the next 2 years are going to be spent doing studies of feasibility and initial designs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackArcher View Post
    Interesting that Turkey should decide to go it alone or seek a partner for the new fighter. Several questions come to mind and a respectful discussion on them would be interesting.

    1) How much will such a program's total cost be and can Turkey afford it all on its own?
    2) Will it be a 5th gen fighter or a 4.5 gen fighter like the KF-X ?
    3) Single Engine or double engine ? As of now a twin engine seems likely which is different from the KF-X.
    3) Since Turkey has no turbofan development program ongoing, they will look to source it from abroad like South Korea. Who will they source engines from? US or Europe?
    4) Considering the aircraft it will replace (F-4 and F-16 Block 30) the aircraft will likely be in the 8 ton-12 ton empty weight category and require 2 X F-414, M-88-2/3 or Ej-200 type engines. or will they seek a single engined design with the F-35's F-135 or F-136 engines
    4) What experience does Turkey have in fast jet design and development? Ranging from avionics to airframe, developing a fighter is a very time consuming, costly and difficult process, especially without an experienced partner to hold hands and guide through the process. How risky will this be for the TAF and how realistic is 2023 as a date for entry into service, when the next 2 years are going to be spent doing studies of feasibility and initial designs?
    1) yes Turkey probably cant afford to do it on its own. may need partners. maybe from its Turko friends like Azerbaijan or Kazakhstan that is aflush with oil money. or Pakistan (some experience in aviation, close military links), or maybe even Japan. Strategically, Bulgaria is good as they are quite good strategists.

    3) KFX is twin engined, either the 101 or 201 designs.

    4) France hates Turkey, or maybe, they secretly love Turkey and use it to sell expensive weapons to Greece. In any case M88 seems unlikely. I think EJ200 may be good, or even F414. I hear the F414 is quite low maintainance. whether it is one or two engined will depend on the size of the aircraft. a light fighter like Gripen can supercruise with one F414. or does Turkey want to make something bigger like the Typhoon?

    5) not much, but it does license build F-16s and offer upgrades, while building some other non fighter aircraft like Herkules, Ankle UAV, etc.
    I think given Turkey's current abilities, it probably needs some partners like I said above.. and follow closely an existing design (base it off the F-35, X-32, McD/BaE JAST? etc) or use many off the shelf equipment.. i.e. Rafale/Typhoon/F-16E parts in a new stealthier air frame with an internal bay. It won't be no F-35, but it'll at least be better than what their neighbors have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J-7 Hotdog View Post
    4) France hates Turkey, or maybe, they secretly love Turkey and use it to sell expensive weapons to Greece. In any case M88 seems unlikely. I think EJ200 may be good, or even F414. I hear the F414 is quite low maintainance. whether it is one or two engined will depend on the size of the aircraft. a light fighter like Gripen can supercruise with one F414. or does Turkey want to make something bigger like the Typhoon?
    I don't think its size going to be as big as typhoon, its probably going to be an lightweight fighter and the two seated trainer version. But sure it must have better capabilities than the aging F-16s! So I think we can call it at least 4,5 generation! But I don't know how much foreign support will the Turkish defence industry need or will they! But if we think that, its the first Turkish indigenous fighter aircraft project and some components will need to get from abroad or there will create joint ventures. Maybe a foreign partner for getting some key technologies. But the design and the integration of the systems will be done by the Turkish Aerospace Industries, TAI. So its a good project for the Turkish aerospace industries to increase their capabilities with such a complex fighter aircraft project
    Last edited by medal64; 18th December 2010 at 16:52.

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    Quote Originally Posted by medal64 View Post
    I don't think its size going to be as big as typhoon, its probably going to be an lightweight fighter and the two seated trainer version. But sure it must have better capabilities than the aging F-16s! So I think we can call it at least 4,5 generation! But I don't know how much foreign support will the Turkish defence industry need or will they! But if we think that, its the first Turkish indigenous fighter aircraft project and some components will need to get from abroad or there will create joint ventures. Maybe a foreign partner for getting some key technologies. But the design and the integration of the systems will be done by the Turkish Aerospace Industries, TAI. So its a good project for the Turkish aerospace industries to increase their capabilities with such a complex fighter aircraft project
    It will be a tough task to better the F-16..does Turkey have experience in developing the Fly-by-wire or Fly-by-light FCS that modern fighters have? Even South Korea didn't attempt its first fighter on its own and needed Lock Mart's assistance.

    That apart, what experience does Turkey have in advanced wind tunnel testing, CFD, AESA radars, electro-optical systems and in stealth technologies? The Hurkus may well be a challenging program but a new 4.5 gen fighter will be a lot more challenging. Integrating equipment sourced from abroad will be easier than developing all this in-house in such a short time-frame.

    They will either have to seek a partner like EADS, Saab, Boeing or Lockheed Martin otherwise this will be an exceedingly difficult task to achieve. The approach taken by TAI for the T-129, that is going with an existing A-129 design and improving on it will be more practical.

    Could this be just a bargaining tactic to get South Korea to offer more of an equal partnership in the KF-X ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackArcher View Post
    It will be a tough task to better the F-16..does Turkey have experience in developing the Fly-by-wire or Fly-by-light FCS that modern fighters have? Even South Korea didn't attempt its first fighter on its own and needed Lock Mart's assistance.

    That apart, what experience does Turkey have in advanced wind tunnel testing, CFD, AESA radars, electro-optical systems and in stealth technologies? The Hurkus may well be a challenging program but a new 4.5 gen fighter will be a lot more challenging. Integrating equipment sourced from abroad will be easier than developing all this in-house in such a short time-frame.

    They will either have to seek a partner like EADS, Saab, Boeing or Lockheed Martin otherwise this will be an exceedingly difficult task to achieve. The approach taken by TAI for the T-129, that is going with an existing A-129 design and improving on it will be more practical.

    Could this be just a bargaining tactic to get South Korea to offer more of an equal partnership in the KF-X ?

    I advise you to read the news one more time, it says;

    The minister said Turkey may cooperate with South Korea, but implied that this is a small possibility. "We can manufacture the new fighter aircraft with them, we don't rule this out. But the decision we have taken now calls for the production of a totally national and original aircraft," he said.

    So I don't think its a tactic for getting the equal partnership for the KF-X project, its a policy for Turkey to create indigenous platforms. Turkish defence industry is advancing at CFD, AESA radars, electro-optical systems and in stealth technologies! Advise you to check these websites;

    http://www.ssm.gov.tr/anasayfa/Sayfalar/default.aspx
    www.aselsan.com.tr
    www.roketsan.com.tr
    www.havelsan.com.tr

    I agree that there can be a foreign support at some specific areas but general design, software creation, system integration and probably some of the weapons will be created indigenously for the Turkish Airforce needs! Thats what the defence ministery wants
    Last edited by medal64; 18th December 2010 at 23:02.

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    if its anything like those Asian countries with their own "national" fighter..(t-50, chinko, f-2).. the most conservative route is to work with Lockheed or Boing, give them majority share.. make an F-35 lite (or better, an X-32 lite)

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    Sorry guys in being - maybe - a bit too pessimistic, but itn't that a bit too much for the Turkish Industries to develop a fighter of that class ??

    In a time where most other contries with much more expieriences can't do that ... Sorry, but IMO that's at least one number too big.

    Deino
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    I have the same fear. Its a costly endeavour and without having done a 3rd generation or 4th gen fighter as yet, to go directly to a 4.5 gen fighter is a HUGE jump and the timeline indicated of service entry by 2023 is too optimistic.

    And from the links provided by medal64, while it seems that Turkey does have the R&D and facilities for several development programs in avionics, radar, etc. there is nothing concrete regarding any airborne radar or RCS measurement and shaping technologies, to just speak of a couple of technologies. Where is the experience in designing a fighter's FCS ? Integrating technologies from various sources is a lot less challenging than coming up with everything on their own, so an experienced partner is definitely required.

    I'm not saying that it cannot be done, but its a costly affair and will definitely require a lot of foreign assistance.

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    How about Turkey collaborating with China for light stealth fighter? They both have common friend Pakistan and lately China has shown interest in building up military relationship with Turkey. China could very well subsidize & help in their R&D effort, in return for special relationship with a NATO member and a gateway to Europe, and off course silencing critics on east Turkmenistan.

    JMVHT only

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anant View Post
    How about Turkey collaborating with China for light stealth fighter? They both have common friend Pakistan and lately China has shown interest in building up military relationship with Turkey. China could very well subsidize & help in their R&D effort, in return for special relationship with a NATO member and a gateway to Europe, and off course silencing critics on east Turkmenistan.

    JMVHT only
    Turkey can get some smart devices from china but in my opinion its impossible to get an technical support from China but Pakistan is a historical friend of Turkey and they can be a good partner at development.But for technical assistance, my favourites are EADS, KAI, Ukrainen Aircraft Industries and United Aircraft Corporation (Russia).
    And also as you know there are too many Turkish scientists in former soviet countries, sure Turkey wants to work with them
    Last edited by medal64; 19th December 2010 at 08:33.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deino View Post
    Sorry guys in being - maybe - a bit too pessimistic, but itn't that a bit too much for the Turkish Industries to develop a fighter of that class ??

    In a time where most other contries with much more expieriences can't do that ... Sorry, but IMO that's at least one number too big.

    Deino
    As you know also Yak-130 is an advanced jet trainer/light attack aircraft! Who knows lets wait and see the details of the project.

    But If Turkey won't get typhoons and not keen on the KF-X project if it doesn't get equal partnership then which bird will be the Turkish airforce's front line fighter after 2020 with high quantities? Its sensible an indigenous one
    Last edited by medal64; 19th December 2010 at 09:29.

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    Quote Originally Posted by medal64 View Post
    As you know also Yak-130 is an advanced jet trainer/light attack aircraft! Who knows lets wait and see the details of the project.

    But If Turkey won't get typhoons and not keen on the KF-X project if it doesn't get equal partnership then which bird will be the Turkish airforce's front line fighter after 2020 with high quantities? Its sensible an indigenous one
    What does the Yak-130 has to do with that requirement for a new fighter to replace the F-4E ??

    ... and YES, it will (!!) then be an indigenoius project. But does Turkey has the capabilities to do that ?? I highly doubt that, when other countries with a much longer history in developing aircraft can't do that on their own ...

    Deino
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    He was my North, my South, my East and West,
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    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods:
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    One has to admit, Turkish industry is innovative at modifying and upgrading existing platforms of many types. Take the cost-effective, stretched, multi-configured and power-upgraded M-113 APC, for just one simple example. Recent naval building ambitions is impressive, too.

    In terms of a modern tactical aviation program... just an I idea I had, maybe Turkey could take a license-produced (or quasi-partnered) baseline platform, such as Gripen and 'stretch', 're-wing' and 'bolt-on' to Turk's flavor?

    A poster under the handle Arquebus had made a cool 3-D model of something on that line in the "fantasy fighter" thread.

    Perhaps incorporate a standardized engine type already used in the force structure to maximize economy and meet a T/W requirement if it's bigger than a Gripen, i.e. Turk's F-16 engine type?

    Maybe they and Greece could make truce and partner !
    - The Super Falcon has not yet conceded defeat -

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    Quote Originally Posted by geogen View Post

    In terms of a modern tactical aviation program... just an I idea I had, maybe Turkey could take a license-produced (or quasi-partnered) baseline platform, such as Gripen and 'stretch', 're-wing' and 'bolt-on' to Turk's flavor?


    Exactly,

    A project model like T-129 ATAK seems to be the best option, i.e take an airframe, modify it, integrate indigenous avionics into it and you have a fighter.

    The MoD Vecdi Gonul stated that the new aircraft will be developed for training and combat (to support F-16 B50+ and F-35).

    As for training TurAF has requirement for:

    ~44 (original 48) F-5 2000 for LIFT
    55 T-38M (locally upgraded T-38A)

    Total: ~100 AJT's.

    Combat fighters:

    16 F-4ETM (plus a disbanded fighter squadron)
    ~35 F-16C/D Block 30 (receving CCIP Lite)

    ~50 - 80 tactical fighters

    It can safely be assumed that the new aircraft will not be a direct competitor to F-35 or F-16 B50+ but supplement them with the ability to use indigenous avionics (ASELPOD nav/targt pod, mission computers, MFD etc) and launch locally developed armamanet (HGK GPS/INS bomb, Atmaca antiship missile, wing kit munition, Demet cluster bomb, local SRAMM etc).

    Since there are rumors that South Korea wants Turkey to see in KF-X programme, it seemsthis is just an option. In my opinion the options would be:

    1. F-50 / T-50
    2. KF-X
    3. Gripen NG
    4. JF-17
    ?

    In any case I don't think complex subsystems such as engine or FBW will be developed from scratch. As for the ATAK case, Turkey did not inted to design a new engine or FADEC for the helicopter but focused on avionics and weapons systems first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deino View Post
    What does the Yak-130 has to do with that requirement for a new fighter to replace the F-4E ??
    You are right targets are big They want good A2A capabilities for the new fighter, a hard task!
    Last edited by medal64; 19th December 2010 at 13:02.

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    TEI will take part in development of engines for this fighter! Their target for 2015 to get the capabilities of design and production of aircraft engines and in 2020 worth 1,2-2 billion$ sale.

    Its possible to create a new corporation which includes TAI and TEI for the creation and the production of this bird

    http://www.tei.com.tr/yeni/EN/

    A detailed news in Turkish

    http://www.nethaber.com/Ekonomi/1713...RA-KENDI-SAVAS
    Last edited by medal64; 19th December 2010 at 18:43.

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    Quote Originally Posted by orko_8 View Post
    Exactly,

    A project model like T-129 ATAK seems to be the best option, i.e take an airframe, modify it, integrate indigenous avionics into it and you have a fighter.

    The MoD Vecdi Gonul stated that the new aircraft will be developed for training and combat (to support F-16 B50+ and F-35).

    As for training TurAF has requirement for:

    ~44 (original 48) F-5 2000 for LIFT
    55 T-38M (locally upgraded T-38A)

    Total: ~100 AJT's.

    Combat fighters:

    16 F-4ETM (plus a disbanded fighter squadron)
    ~35 F-16C/D Block 30 (receving CCIP Lite)

    ~50 - 80 tactical fighters

    It can safely be assumed that the new aircraft will not be a direct competitor to F-35 or F-16 B50+ but supplement them with the ability to use indigenous avionics (ASELPOD nav/targt pod, mission computers, MFD etc) and launch locally developed armamanet (HGK GPS/INS bomb, Atmaca antiship missile, wing kit munition, Demet cluster bomb, local SRAMM etc).

    Since there are rumors that South Korea wants Turkey to see in KF-X programme, it seemsthis is just an option. In my opinion the options would be:

    1. F-50 / T-50
    2. KF-X
    3. Gripen NG
    4. JF-17
    ?

    In any case I don't think complex subsystems such as engine or FBW will be developed from scratch. As for the ATAK case, Turkey did not inted to design a new engine or FADEC for the helicopter but focused on avionics and weapons systems first.
    but there is no A-129 of stealth aircraft if thats what Turkey wants. you have only F-35 or Pak-fa to work on, and i doubt either country will allow turkey to make the extent of modifications it could do on the T-129..

    Gripen on the other hand may be possible or JF-17. but why would Turkey want those!?

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    I think that a modified and tailored to Turkey's requirements, JF-17 Block II based design may just be right for Turkey and could come with real TOT. The Gripen NG could be another excellent choice. These are obviously going to be supporting planes for JSFs.

    Then again, Pakistan needs to counter the PAKFA and this may be a great opportunity to work with multiple partners and share subsystems at the least if not entire platforms in building something in another generation than the Gripen or JF-17 can afford.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PLA-MKII View Post
    I think that a modified and tailored to Turkey's requirements, JF-17 Block II based design may just be right for Turkey and could come with real TOT. The Gripen NG could be another excellent choice. These are obviously going to be supporting planes for JSFs.

    Then again, Pakistan needs to counter the PAKFA and this may be a great opportunity to work with multiple partners and share subsystems at the least if not entire platforms in building something in another generation than the Gripen or JF-17 can afford.
    why would Turkey want something inferior (or equal level) to what they currently have and ordered? late block F-16s and F-35s?
    but I agree, it could be a good chance for Pakistan and Turkey to make something new together.

    Plus Turkey is shifting away from the US and the West and becoming Islamized, so they may have to face towards China and Pakistan by default as Israel and the US no longer trusts them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J-7 Hotdog View Post
    Plus Turkey is shifting away from the US and the West and becoming Islamized, so they may have to face towards China and Pakistan by default as Israel and the US no longer trusts them.
    Its hard to say whole country is becoming islamized Today still Turkey and the USA strategic partners and forseable future it won't change! So in the future, as they did in the past Turkey and the USA will work together. But today Turkey wants to increse its influence in the world and develops new projects. And the booming economy supports it. Thats how we see such projects
    Last edited by medal64; 20th December 2010 at 21:31.

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    What happened with a "Mi-28 stop-gap option" till T-129 comes into inventory?

    Are there any other "stop-gap alternatives" or TuAF will wait for their customized Agustas?

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    Quote Originally Posted by niksi View Post
    What happened with a "Mi-28 stop-gap option" till T-129 comes into inventory?

    Are there any other "stop-gap alternatives" or TuAF will wait for their customized Agustas?
    last I heard, the Turks wanted more Cobras as a stop gap measure. maybe what you read was that the Turks were considering the Mi-28 as a stop-gap.. but ultimately ended up going for the cobra.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J-7 Hotdog View Post
    why would Turkey want something inferior (or equal level) to what they currently have and ordered? late block F-16s and F-35s?
    but I agree, it could be a good chance for Pakistan and Turkey to make something new together.

    Plus Turkey is shifting away from the US and the West and becoming Islamized, so they may have to face towards China and Pakistan by default as Israel and the US no longer trusts them.
    Yes, there is some thought to that. Advantages of the JF-17 / Gripen over the F-16:

    1. Full TOT and ability for TAI to do just as Orko says: take an airframe and integrate.
    2. Replace older platforms cost effectively

    Between, how about the J-10B for that? That'd be interesting in Turkish colors and would be a real pain for the Greeks; a sure M2000 and F-16 counter.

    I definitely would like to see Turkey moving more towards a Turkey-Pakistan-China nexus. I have heard rumors of very close cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan under the table regarding some very sensitive technologies. Maybe a newer generation program may not be a bad idea.

  30. #30
    Join Date
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    One has to look at what goals a partnership can bring to Turkey-

    1) Funding- and a 4.5 gen fighter will cost a heck of a lot just in setting up the necessary infrastructure to design and develop such a fighter.
    2) Infusion of experience and technology as well as an assured sale of XX number of these fighters, which will bring down unit price and make the fighter more affordable for possible exports.

    Lets take KAI as an example here. They spent on the T-50 program with Lock Mart fulfilling offset obligations by supporting the program. The design takes very heavily from the F-16 and yet since it involves a new and smaller fighter, it requires a lot of original design work as well. Much of the T-50 program relied on Lock Mart's knowledge and its F-16 and F-35 experience. But KAI, having spent the required money to come up with the facilities for R&D on the T-50, and having done a lot of the ground work on the design, is only now in a position to reap the rewards with the F/A-50 and then the KF-X. They used a similar approach on the Surion too, and only now when they are more confident, are they thinking of producing an all-new attack helicopter design. And they already had the KT-1 Woong Bee experience prior to this, so they had as much experience earlier itself as TAI does now.

    TAI's timeline is so optimistic that it would be a rather foolish to go ahead with a 2023 in service date and no other major partner (like Boeing, Lock Mart, EADS, Saab, UAC) to do a lot of hand-holding and guiding and with a lot of off-the-shelf and later on integrated equipment like on the Gripen NG. I mean look at the PAK-FA's T-50 prototype flying today and with all the engine, airframe, radar and integration experience that the Russians have and all the experience that the Indians have in avionics, computers and other subsystems, they still expect the PAK-FA to only enter service in 2020. The F-35 program, its development issues and its timelines also support this.

    Pakistan or the JF-17 Block II is not the ideal partner in this sense since the JF-17 is essentially a CAC program and relies almost totally on Chinese R&D. Whereas Pakistan is now establishing manufacturing for it and has gained mostly in that respect and some abilities to henceforth integrate avionics without Chinese help. So what does TAI gain from such a partnership when this new fighter is supposed to better F-16 Block 50s at a later date and that cannot be expected from the JF-17, for which even matching the F-16 Block 50 at a later date would be a huge achievement ? Maybe some funding but not enough for an equal partnership which will cost a billion to a couple of billion at least which Pakistan likely cannot afford since it has J-10s to acquire and at a later date the J-20 too.

    And what would Pakistan gain if the JF-17 Block II is chosen ? A heck of a lot- but if the offer is to participate in a totally new program instead of just taking the JF-17 and developing a variant, then it might be too costly for Pakistan to participate, since for sure future JF-17 development will suffer as a result of diverted funding.

    The fact is that for TAI, production is not likely going to be the bigger problem since they have been manufacturing and upgrading F-16s locally- it is the mastering of the varied and complex technologies that go into the fighter design and its associated systems right from the beginning that is the bigger headache and requires someone like Boeing, Lock Mart, EADS, Dassault, Saab or UAC to be involved from the beginning.

    As I've said before- maybe the best approach would be partner someone like Saab on the Gripen NG and develop a new variant of it, one that has substantial changes to the airframe, beyond just modified landing gear, fairings and new engines like it does have now. Here, a re-sized and possibly 10-15% larger Gripen NG with semi-conformal weapons carriage and a couple of modestly sized internal bays to hold some A2A or A2G weapons and conformal fuel tanks to reduce RCS when carrying drop tanks would be a true 4.5 gen fighter. On the same side, ask GE to develop an even higher thrust variant of the F414 using CMCs to use on this 10-15% heavier fighter.

    It will be cheaper to develop than a fully new 4.5 gen fighter and will offer substantially better capabilities than the F-4E-2000 or the F-16 Block 30s, heck even the F-16 Block 50 would pale against such a fighter. If it is affordable then it will hold the possibility of being exported to nations that don't want a F-35 and cannot afford the larger PAK-FA/FGFA or the Chinese J-20's upfront acquisition or maintenance costs over lifetime. But then a US sourced engine will become an issue since the US will not want any foreign fighter to eat into F-35 sales and so the engine issue will also have to be resolved separately.

    For funding, they could also look towards Saudi Arabia or UAE. UAE especially has been very keen on absorbing technology and may well be interested in a future replacement for their F-16 Block 60s, especially since they seem ready to retire fighters with plenty of life and capabilities left in them like the Mirage-2000-9.

    Time will tell as to what choices are made and how successful they are but this is an interesting program (that is if it does go beyond being a concept).

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