Turkey’s new top defense procurement management is not as warm to the idea of designing and developing an indigenous fighter jet as it used to be, citing limits to technological capabilities.
A senior defense procurement official said a new assessment of the program, dubbed the TF-X, found that several aspects of the ambition may surpass local industrial capabilities.
“The program has not yet been shelved or restructured, but it should not surprise anyone if it is,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.
Turkey’s top procurement official, İsmail Demir, who took over from Murad Bayar in April, ordered a new assessment report on the program and concluded that a 100 percent Turkish fighter jet may be too ambitious, given Turkey’s local capabilities.
One government official said Demir, head of the Undersecretary for Defense Industries (SSM), has already briefed President-elect (Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about the “potential infeasibility” of the program. Turkey has long claimed it would design, develop and manufacture its own fighter jet.
Erdoğan himself has boasted that the aircraft would make its maiden flight by 2023, the republic’s centennial.