Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) has begun the assembly of the TF-X, the country’s homebuilt fifth-generation fighter jet.
A half-assembled prototype of the jet has been showcased in a video, posted to a YouTube channel belonging to Turkish defense journal Savunma Sanayii Dergilik.
The footage was filmed during a ceremony on November 23, 2022, which took place at a TAI facility where the assembly line was unveiled.
“Hopefully we are at the beginning of the end. We are opening the first curtain of this work. Our job will be finished when our aircraft is successfully operational. We have opened the curtain, but we still have a long way to go,” Ismail Demir, the president of Turkey’s Defence Industry Agency, said at the ceremony.
According to Demir, the rollout ceremony for the jet has been scheduled for March 18, 2023, with assembly expected to be completed by that date.
The TF-X prototype is expected to take off on its maiden flight by 2025, and the aircraft is planned to enter service by 2025, earlier reports have suggested.
Along with upcoming combat drones, such as Bayraktar Kizilelma, the TF-X is intended to replace the Turkish Air Force’s ageing fleet of F-4 and F-16 fighter jets.
The development of the KF-X began in 2011 and was accelerated by the government in the mid-2010s when Turkey was dropped from the US-led F-35 program due to purchasing the Russian S-300 air defense system.
The KF-X is expected to be a fifth-generation fighter jet with many of its features broadly similar to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.