Spotted: Turkish KAAN stealth also with inverted canopy as on F-35

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The KAAN fighter jet is on its way to its maiden flight. So why was the canopy of the KAAN fighter developed as part of the National Fighter Project reversed?

Photo credit: Star Turkey

After the production of the first prototype of the KAAN fighter was presented to the public by TAI, there were some curious questions. One of them is why is the KAAN canopy designed to open downwind?

Under the National Combat Aircraft Program initiated by the Defense Industries Presidency, it aims to develop a 5th generation of combat aircraft. For this reason, the KAAN fighter has been designed following the most modern design trends. Many subsystems of the aircraft were developed by Turkish companies. VOLO, which has experience in the field of composite technology, has developed a canopy that we can call its door.

Canopies on many 4th, 4.5, and 5th generation fighter jets open upwind, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15 Strike Eagle, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, F-22 Raptor, and J -20. On the KAAN Fighter Jet, the canopy opens in the direction of the wind, as can be seen.

Why is the KAAN canopy designed this way?

Photo credit:

The design of the canopy that opens in the direction of the wind in the KAAN Fighter is also present in the F-35 Lightning II fighter. If we look at the eastern block, we see that the canopy of the old-generation MiG-21PF fighter is open in the direction of the wind.

The aircraft’s lift fan has a large effect on opening the F-35’s cabin downwind. The canopy is designed upside down to make room for the elevator fan and space is saved as the hinges are eliminated. However, the KAAN does not have a lifting fan, and the reverse opening of the cockpit compared to other combat aircraft is not due to this. This situation is believed to have various advantages.

One of the most important reasons is that the canopy is protected from the force of the wind in case the canopy opens as a result of possible damage or accident. For this reason, the main direction of the turret is designed to be in the same direction, and not against the wind, as is the case with the F-35 for example.

Ejection and maintenance

In cases where the ejection seat will be used during an emergency, with a different technique, the aircraft will be able to get rid of the canopy glass. For example: on many aircraft, such as the F-16 and F-22, the canopy pops up on takeoff and is blown away by the wind.

Photo credit: Twitter

On the other hand, fighter jets like the F-35 and Harrier have explosive bands called “Explosive Shaped” in the turret. In the event of an accident, the canopy is detonated by these strips. For the KAAN fighter, it is emphasized that an explosive form was developed by Roketsan with national funds.

A second advantage is the low weight. There are claims that the mechanisms of the awnings that open in the direction of the wind are lighter. This not only benefits the overall weight of the aircraft but also makes it easier to remove the canopy from the aircraft in an emergency.

Easy maintenance

It is emphasized that the forward-opening canopy also has advantages in terms of maintenance. For example, in the F-16 fighter, whose canopy opens upwind, the canopy must be completely removed to perform maintenance on the ejection seat.

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

But with the F-35, which opens downwind, this is not necessary. It is anticipated that there will be no need for this in the KAAN fighter. This means significant time savings in maintenance activities.

In addition, downwind canopies are claimed to have distinct advantages in reducing the radar cross-sectional area [RCA]. The most important characteristics of 5th generation fighter jets are that they have a small radar cross-sectional area and therefore are invisible to radars as much as possible.


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