ISLAMABAD, ($1=175.25 Pakistani Rupees) — The Islamic world could get a fifth-generation fighter jet after Turkey and Pakistan join forces. This is the Turkish program for the development and production of a fifth-generation TF-X fighter, in which Pakistan is already participating. The news was confirmed by Temel Kotil, executive director of Turkish Aerospace Industries [TUSAS], and Rizvan Riaz, vice marshal of the Pakistan Air Force [PAF].
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Both said the TAI TF-X was already becoming a Turkish-Pakistani fighter jet program and co-operation between the two countries was already underway. This is not the first time Pakistan has tried to develop a fifth-generation fighter jet. The National University of Science and Technology [NUST] has conducted experiments in this area with the Pakistan Aviation Complex and the Pakistani Air Force.
Both sides did not provide further information, but Turkey says the new TF-X will follow the principles and operational requirements of the two countries’ air forces. It is no secret that the TF-X is an opportunity for Turkey to replace its existing fleet with the US Lockheed F-16.
Why are Turkey and Pakistan uniting?
BulgarianMilitary.com reminds us that Ankara was excluded from the American program for a joint fighter of the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II after purchasing Russian S-400 air defense systems. Later in 2021, Turkey tried to upgrade its F-16, but the United States refused, citing the same economic sanctions imposed after the purchase of Russia’s air defense system.
Pakistan also has a fleet of US F-16 fighters, but in recent years Islamabad has worked closely with Beijing to produce JF-17 Thunder fighters under Chinese license. Nearly 140 fighters of this model are in active service in the Pakistani Air Force.
Last but not least, cooperation between China and Pakistan has allowed the Islamic State to buy from China 25 J-10C Vigorous Dragon, whose deliveries of the first units have already begun. As previously reported by BulgarianMilitary.com, this fighter has a WS-10B thrust-vectoring engine and is armed with modern Chinese IR air-to-air missiles.
Problems facing TAI TF-X
TAI TF-X is now becoming TF-X due to the inclusion of Pakistan in the project. However, this does not mean that the fighter starts its production. On the contrary – both countries will have to solve some problems, including what engine will drive the aircraft.
Germany and the United States have already refused to supply engines due to economic sanctions imposed by Washington. There have been rumors that South Korea would supply an engine, and that Ukraine is also ready to help Turkey, given the close cooperation so far. Ukraine has already sold several engines for Turkish helicopters and has started production of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones with Turkey.
Last but not least, Russia is an option to solve the problem of supplying the engine for the fighter. There have been such rumors and they have not passed, but Russian manufacturers will likely supply a localization system.
Assuming that armaments will not be a problem for Ankara, as there are proven manufacturers in this field, the issue of avionics also remains unresolved. At this stage, it is known that perhaps the Turkish company HAVELSAN will be engaged in the production of software solutions for the fighter.
There are several possibilities, including a joint development between Pakistan and Turkey, based on Pakistan’s already J-17 manufacturing experience. In this regard, the informal involvement of China on the Pakistan-China axis is also an opportunity.
What we know about the Turkish fighter so far is small. However, TAI has its minimum requirements for the new fighter and they are improved aerodynamics and propulsion, super-cruise, sufficient and optimized combat radius, advanced and internal multi-spectral sensors [EW and RF / IR], low observability, sensor fusion and autonomy, improved data-link capabilities for network-enabled warfare, high precision stand-off weapons.
ASELSAN is currently developing an advanced active electronically scanned array radar that will use gallium nitride [GaN] technology for the TF-X program.
The TF-X will be integrated from the cockpit to accompanying UAVs [most likely the TAI Anka] through encrypted datalink connections. The aircraft will likely use upgraded variants of Aselsan’s own radar warning receiver [RWR], missile warning system [MWS], laser warning system [LWS], chaff and flare management, dispensing system, and digital radio frequency memory [DRFM] -based jamming system, which already deployed with the other air platforms.
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