Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) was officially announced that the TF-X MMU fifth generation stealth fighter jet left its hangar on 18 March 2023, and make its first flight by the end of 2023. The taxiing and ground running tests of the prototype began two days before the scheduled roll-out, on March 16, 2023. The TAI TF-X (Turkish Fighter), alternatively named in Turkish as Milli Muharip Ucak (MMU, National Combat Aircraft), abbreviated as MMU, is a stealth twin-engine all-weather air superiority fighter in development by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and BAE Systems as its sub-contractor. The TF-X MMU is planned to replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft of the Turkish Air Force and to be exported to foreign nations.
Developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the TF-X MMU has the technologies and features found in fifth-generation warplanes. It will provide the opportunity to strategically attack air-to-air and air-to-ground targets. It has a completely domestic infrastructure for secure data sharing and the use of smart munitions. The TF-X MMU with its high-performance radar, electronic warfare, electro-optics, communication, navigation and identification capability, will achieve increased combat power with precision and accurate firing from internal weapon slots at high/supersonic speed. It also has automatic target recognition and detection, multiple data fusion and artificial intelligence capabilities.
ASELSAN is currently developing an advanced active electronically scanned array radar which will use gallium nitride (GaN) technology for the TF-X MMU program. The TF-X will be integrated from the cockpit to accompanying UAVs 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 are already deployed with the other air platforms. The aim is to use the MUM-T (Manned Unmanned Teaming) capability of the TF-X with maximum efficiency, the pilot in the back will be able to coordinate and manage drones like the Bayraktar Kizilelma & Bayraktar TB2.
The TF-X MMU is the first 5th-generation stealth fighter jet involving digital twin technology for the design and production. TAI’s Advanced Carbon Composites fuselage facility, which was commissioned to produce fuselages for Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) program, has been tasked with developing an Advanced Carbon Composite fuselage for the TF-X. The Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) has also issued a tender for the development of a new lighter carbon composite thermoplastic for the TF-X fuselage. Prototypes will be equipped with General Electric F110 engines until the TAEC engine, a joint venture between the Turkish KALE & British Rolls-Royce, is completed and ready. Besides these two engines, an alternative engine is found from an undisclosed nation.