Turkish KAAN is able to neutralize a Russian Su-57 in Ukraine

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The aerospace industry was recently rocked by the advent of two new fifth-generation fighter jets: Turkey’s KAAN and Russia’s Su-57. Just last week in Ankara, the inaugural flight of the much-anticipated Turkish KAAN took place, slightly later than the original December 2023 launch date. 

Photo credit: Twitter

Simultaneously, Russia demonstrated its prowess by deploying a Su-57, armed with Kh-59MK missiles, and successfully infiltrated Ukrainian airspace. 

The reveal of KAAN has received considerable media attention in the past week. On March 1, 2024, Anadolu, a Turkish news agency, compiled and reported on several news pieces celebrating the aircraft’s successful maiden voyage. The Spanish press has even described KAAN as the most notable endeavor in Modern Turkish history since the end of the Caliphate era.

Turkey wants everything

“Turkey has set its sights on becoming a predominant player in the world of fifth-generation fighter aircraft”, according to Spanish defense news hub Defensa.com. Their aspirations are backed by global interest, as numerous countries seem intrigued by the potential of acquiring this high-tech military hardware. There are even suggestions that this formidable aircraft could rival the prowess of the F-22 Raptor and F-35 developed by the renowned Lockheed Martin, various reports have outlined. 

The driving force behind Turkey’s commitment to intensifying development until the successful launch of KAAN has its roots in past experiences. Led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey initially took part in the F-35 fighter jet production project. Regrettably, an unforeseen snag occurred when they decided to purchase the Russian air defense system S-400, which led to their exclusion from the project. 

Photo credit: DefBrief

The U.S. was worried that the S-400 could provide a pathway for Russia to covertly gather critical information about the F-35’s specifications. However, the ban on Turkey’s F-35 procurement has now been lifted, and permission has been granted for F-16 purchases. Considering the substantial down payment Turkey made during the initial phase of the state-of-the-art U.S. aircraft project, this constitutes significant progress.

Ukraine wants KAAN

Even if Turkey doesn’t proceed with the F-35 purchase, the KAAN project won’t be slowed. It’s believed that the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia is the primary driving force behind this urgency. Recent updates indicate that the Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey has expressed an interest in procuring KAAN to counter Russian aircraft. This interest is what incentivizes the Turks not only to continue but also to expedite the development of KAAN. 

That being said, KAAN will undoubtedly face significant challenges. The Su-57 aircraft, the crown jewel of the Kremlin’s and Putin’s era in Russia, boasts enhanced capabilities due to the Kh-59MK missile. The presence of such missiles has emboldened Russia under Putin’s command to breach Ukraine’s borders without any remorse. 

Photo by Andrei Shmatko

However, in the aftermath of the apparent incursion of the Su-57 into Ukraine, critical reports have surfaced. A report published on the Defense Security Asia page on March 1, 2024, revealed that numerous observers are questioning the audacity of the Russian Su-57 to penetrate Ukraine’s well-guarded air borders. Moreover, the attack range of the Kh-59MK – which the aircraft is equipped with – only has a maximum reach of 300 km.

KAAN can do it

There’s been some chatter among pundits, suggesting that despite being armed with formidable missiles, the Su-57 still runs the risk of being shot down by Ukraine if Russian aircraft violate its airspace. This is indeed intriguing, considering the acclaimed abilities of KAAN – which are listed as comparable to the likes of the F-22 Raptor and F-35. 

Photo credit: DIA

As noted by the resourceful Aviation File, the KAAN is armed with stealth features, including radar jamming capabilities that can effectively conceal the aircraft’s movements from the enemy. Moreover, this aircraft does not only employ AESA radar but also supports an array of robust, cutting-edge weapons. 

These include components like the MBDA Meteor, Goktug air-to-air missiles, SPEAR-3 air-to-surface missiles from MBDA, and various types of bombing equipment. The fighters’ air performance is also worth noting. 

The KAAN is powered by two General Electric F110-GE-129 turbofan engines, which each provide a dry thrust of 76.31 kN and an afterburner thrust of 131 kN. Thanks to this robust engine, the KAAN can achieve a peak speed of up to Mach 1.8, slightly faster than the F-35’s top speed of Mach 1.6. Furthermore, its maximum operational altitude or ceiling reaches up to 17 km or 55,000 feet.

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