İnternet üzerinden yayın yapan Yunan askeri havacılık dergisi Fox 2'nun Mart - Nisan 2011 sayısında, Türk Hava Kuvvetleri'nin muharip ve eğitim uçağı ihtiyacı için geliştirilen TF-X projesini tanıtıcı, "TF-X & THK" başlıklı makalem yayınlandı.
Makalenin İngilizce versiyonunu aşağıya ekliyorum.
Makalenin İngilizce versiyonunu aşağıya ekliyorum.
The press release after Defence Industry Executive Committee (DIEC) meeting on December 15, 2010, signalled the beginning of a new era for Turkish Air Force (TurAF) and Turkish Defence industry.
In his press announcement, Minister of National Defence, Mr Vecdi Gonul informed that a decision for contract negotiations with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) on the conceptual design phase for a jet trainer and combat aircraft (TFX) to enter service with TurAF in 2020s. A total of USD 20,000,000 was earmarked for the conceptual design period which is expected to last 2 years.
This decision came as surprise to many. TAI currently has a number of aircraft upgrade (T-38M Ari, CCIP, Erciyes, HeliMod, Yarasa, Isik, Simsek) programs as well as Hurkus basic turboprop trainer and Anka Medium Altitude Long Endurance unmanned air vehicle (UAV) development projects underway.
Hurkus project is currently at prototype production stage. First flight is expected in 2011 with the certification procedures to be completed in 2013. The successful completion of Hurkus project and service entry in the second half of the decade will mean a pass over a psychological and technological barrier for Turkish aviation industry.
Turkish Air Force Combat and Trainer Fleet Status
Turkish Air Force currently operates 210 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 30/40/50 Fighting Falcon, 49 McDonnell Douglas F-4E 2020 Terminator and 16 adet F-4ETM Phantom II fighters. 173 F-16s, of Block 40 and Block 50 versions, are being modernized Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) aviyonics uprade under Peace Onyx III program. 37 Block 30s are receiving a limited upgrade, since they are used for training and combat transition. CCIP modernized Block 40 and Block 50 F-16s will form the backbone of TurAF combat force together with 30 new F-16C/D Block 50+s license produced under Peace Onyx IV program at TAI facilities. Technical negotiations are currently underway with the US for access to mission computer and Operation Flight Program (OFP) for capability to integrate locally developed weapon and avionics systems to F-16s.
F-4E 2020s which were modernized by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) form the long range precision strike and interdiction force of the TurAF. Equipped with an extremely powerful Elta EL/M-2032 radar and Popeye I precision guided missile as well as GBU-10/12 Paveway laser guided bombs, AGM-65 Maverick television guided missiles, F-4E 2020s currently have received Hassas Gudum Kiti (HGK) GPS/INS guided bombs developed by Turkish TUBITAK SAGE. The Terminator fleet, which were modernized between 1999 – 2003 will be withdrawn from service starting 2020. Turkey gained full control over the mission computer, avionics and OFP of the F-4E 2020s with the Terminator project. This enabled integration of weapon and avionics systems such as Demet cluster bomb, HGK and Menzil Disi Muhimmat (MDM) stan-off weapon system as well as ASELPOD navigation and targeting pod.
A total of 16 F-4Es which did not enter Terminator program are being modernized under Simsek program to extend their service life until the second half of the decade. These fighters, re-designated as F-4ETM will equip 112 Filo. The other unmodernized F-4E squadron, 172, was temporarily disbanded in May 2009 until the introduction of F-35 Lightning II. The first F-4ETM prototype made its maiden flight on December 22, 2009 and the first two aircraft were delivered on March 2, 2010. Under the project, the aircraft are being equipped with ASELSAN produced LN-100GT GPS/INS navigation system, CDU-900 Control display Unit, MXF-484 radio and new OFP, again develped by ASELSAN.
As for the trainer aircraft, the TurAF currently has a fleet of Cessna T-41D Mescalero, Aermacchi SF-260D, Cessna T-37B/C Tweet and Northrop T-38A Talon. F-16 pilot nominees are recevign combat readiness training with F-5A/B 2000 Lead In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) aircraft.
The T-37B/C fleet, which are being used for introductory training for jet pilots, are being replaced by KT-1T. A total of 40 KT-1T are being procured under a 357 million Dollar project signed in 2007. The first 5 aircraft were produced by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), followed by the commence of licensed production at TAI facilities. The first TAI produced KT-1T made its maiden flight on October 5, 2010.
55 of the more than 60 T-38A Talons, which entered service between 1979 – 1980 are receiving an extensive avionics upgrade under Ari (bee) project. Modernization work is being carried on by TAI and Eskisehir 1st Air Supply and Maintenance Centre (ASMC). The 84.5 million Dollar project covers the integration of a new Head Up Display (HUD), Multi Function Color Display (MFCD), MDR-80 Digital Video-Data Recorder / Data Transfer System (DVDR/DTS), Hands On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS), intercom, MXF-484 and MXF-243A V/UHF radio systems, Engine Function Indicator (EFI), Cockpit Television Video Sensor (CTVS), VOR/ILS and a new mission computer as well as Martin Baker Mk16 ejection seat. The first T-38M Ari made its maiden flight on November 3, 2010.
F-5 2000s are being used in advanced jet training. A total of 48 F-5s (20 F-5A, 14 NF-5A, 8 F-5B and 6 NF-5B) were modernized by IAI and 1st AMSC between 2002 – 2007. These aircraft will be retired at the start of 2020s.
Turkey is also a Level III partner of the Lockheed Martin led Joint Strike Fighter project. Entered from the System Development and Demonstration phase, a total of 100 F-35s are expected to be ordered. Lightning IIs are going to replace F-4Es starting 2014 – 2015. Turkey is currently negotiating with the US for access to OFP in order to integrate indigenous weapon and mission systems to the aircraft. Similar requirement is also on the agenda of UK and Israel, the first export customer of the aircraft.
There are several motives behind Turkey’s decision for an indigenous fighter / trainer aircraft project, one being the force structure of the TurAF and the other is to increase the number of sources while strenghtening the national aerospace and defence industry.
As of January 2011, TurAF combat and trainer aircraft inventory is as follows:
37 F-16C/D Block 30 (Delivery:: 1987 – 1989)
101 F-16C/D Block 40 (Delivery: 1990 – 1995)
72 F-16C/D Block 50 (Delivery: 1995 – 1999)
50 F-4E 2020 Terminator (Modernization deliveres: 1999 – 2003)
16 F-4ETM Simsek (Modernization deliveres: 2010 – 2011)
T-38A Talon (Delivery: 1979 – 1980)
F-5 2000 (Modernization deliveres: 2002 – 2007)
T-37B/C Tweet (Delivery: 1963 – 1992)
F-16C/D Block 30s are being used for training and combat readiness. Main strike force consists of Block 40 and Block 50s, hence the receipt of extensive avionics and weapon systems upgrade under CCIP. Block 30s with airframes 22 – 24 years old are nearing the end of their useful service lives. Strating 2020, these aircraft will be retired.
As for the Phantom fleet, F-4ETMs will no longer be economic and safe to fly towards the end of 2010s. These aircraft are of FY66 and FY67 series, the oldest examples in TurAF service. The total number of serviceable F-4Es was limited, that was the main reason of temporary disbandment of 172 Filo. Shortly after F-4ETMs, F-4E 2020s will also be retired around 2020, hence the offical designation.
So overall, TurAF will have 6 squadrons of aircraft, including the disbanded 172 Filo which will have to be replaced starting 2020. This means around 100 fighters
The jet trainer fleet that needs to be replaced in 2020s by a modern type consists of around 45 F-5 2000s and 55 T-38Ms, a total of 100 aircraft.
Another important factor for the starting of TFX project is the need to increase the number of sources:
One of the biggest gains of Turkey with the Terminator project is the installation of a System Integration Laboratory and test facilities at Eskisehir 1st ASMC. With this facility, Turkey gained the capability to produce experience on development, integration and modernization of avionics and weapons systems on modern aircraft, as is the case with integration and test of AIM-9X, JDAM and JSOW on TurAF F-16s, HGK on F-4E 2020s etc. With the experience and technology gained from the Terminator project, Isik, Simsek and Ari programs became possible.
F-4E 2020s thus provided Turkey freedom of movement without any political or technological barriers, unlike the case with F-16s and in the future F-35s, procured through Foreign Military Sales (FMS). Turkey is in hot negotiations with the US for permission of access to OFP of both F-16 and F-35. US permission and intervention is required in modernization and integration of indigenous systems on these aircraft because of aggreements.
TFX, after the possible successful compleiton of Hurkus development program, will be an important symbol of achievement for Turkish aerospace industry which went through Terminator, Isik, Simsek and Ari modernization projects. For now, it is not possible to outline the project model of TFX, but it can safely be aassumed that TFX will not be a “Tejas-a-la-Turca”, i.e. a fully indigenous aircraft development program but some major subsystems (such as engines) imported and/or produced under license at first stage.
According to the words of MoD Vecdi Gonul, Turkey does not plan to join a multinational program as a partner, thus killing all hopes of the Eurofighter Consortium, which offered Turkey full partnership for the development of “EF-2020”, the next generation version of the Typhoon multirole aircraft. Gonul did not rule out a cooperation with South Korea, but his statements implied that a partnership for T-50 Golden Eagle and/or KF-X is not on the table.
South Korea is already a partner of Turkey in several defence projects such as Firtina (Thunder) self propelled howitzer, KT-1T trainer aircraft and Altay main battle tank development program. A project structure similar to Altay might be possible, in which local companies being main and subcontractors while a foreign compay is selected as technology and know how provider. Sweden might also be another candidate with Gripen background and technology.
In conclusion, TFX will be a challange to Turkish defence and aerospace industry and a gateway for entering a new league. If concluded successfully, it will be represent self dependency of Turkish defence industry and military and also a promise by engineers fullfilled to their counterparts in 1940s worked on a number of Turkish designed aircraft.