Turkey to develop twin-engine Anka-3 UCAV to strengthen KAAN

The Turkish KAAN fighter needs its “flying wing” to be in sync with its supercruise capabilities. To achieve this, the local company TAI [Turkish Aerospace Industries] has initiated the development of the twin-engine Anka-3 unmanned combat air vehicle [UCAV] to reach supersonic speeds. This exciting news was officially announced by TAI CEO Temel Kotil. 

Turkey showed its new deep-strike stealth ANKA-3 flying-wing
Photo credit: SavunmaSanayiST.com

As it stands, the prototype of the current Anka-3 variant is powered by a single AI-322 engine, enabling the Turkish UCAV to reach speeds up to 845 km/h. Following recent aeronautical engineering trends, the future twin-engine Anka-3 will not only be larger but also capable of carrying a greater payload, including various types of munitions.

Although Temel Kotil didn’t go into specifics regarding other changes, it’s clear that the design will undergo modifications. Expect a narrower profile optimized for supersonic speeds, as smaller roll angles tend to hamper performance when dealing with shock wave effects at higher speeds. 

Turkish KAAN is able to neutralize a Russian Su-57 in Ukraine
Photo credit: Twitter

The Turkish Anka-3 UCAV [Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle] represents a cutting-edge achievement by Turkish Aerospace Industries [TAI]. Boasting a wingspan of approximately 17.5 meters and a length of around 8 meters, this drone is designed for a range of mission profiles with a maximum takeoff weight of about 1,600 kilograms, enabling it to haul a significant payload.

Technologically speaking, the Anka-3 is loaded with advanced avionics. Its features include a sophisticated autopilot system, satellite communication [SATCOM] for beyond-line-of-sight operations, and an electro-optical/infrared [EO/IR] camera that provides high-resolution imagery and targeting capabilities. Additionally, the drone’s synthetic aperture radar [SAR] ensures effective surveillance in all weather conditions. 

The Anka-3 integrates a variety of state-of-the-art technologies. These include stealth characteristics to minimize radar detection, autonomous flight capabilities, and advanced data link systems for secure and dependable communication. 

Turkey to develop twin-engine Anka-3 UCAV to strengthen KAAN
Photo credit: Flickr

The Anka-3 integrates several advanced systems, including a mission computer, electronic warfare capabilities, and a ground control station [GCS], which enables operators to manage multiple drones at once. The GCS offers real-time data and control, significantly enhancing the operational flexibility of this unmanned combat aerial vehicle [UCAV].

When it comes to armament, the Anka-3 stands out with its ability to carry a diverse range of munitions. These include precision-guided bombs, air-to-ground missiles, and laser-guided rockets. This versatility allows it to effectively engage a broad spectrum of targets, from enemy combatants to fortified positions. 

On February 21, 2024, the Turkish KAAN fighter jet successfully completed its first flight, marking a significant milestone. Countries like Azerbaijan, Pakistan, and Ukraine have taken note of Turkey’s steadfast efforts to operationalize this 5th generation fighter jet, commending its ambitious yet realistic timeline. With the successful test flight of KAAN, Turkey proudly joins the elite club of nations capable of manufacturing 5th-generation fighter jets.

F-35 is cheaper than the KAAN, which will become more expensive
Photo credit: DIA

Despite Turkey’s strides with the KAAN, also known as TF-X, there are possible stumbling blocks ahead. Issues like high inflation and significant external debt, which stood at around US $476 billion as of March 2023, could slow progress. Temel Kotil estimated in a March 2021 interview that one TF-X fighter jet could cost nearly US $100 million. 

Yet, Turkey’s advancements in both fighter jets and drones are noteworthy, particularly in recent years. In the drone sector, for instance, the TAI company is among the few working on supersonic flying-wing aircraft. It’s worth noting that the U.S. envisions its future fighters [NGAD and F/A-XX programs] to adopt this configuration.

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