TAI TF-X: Stealth fighter larger than the F22 debuted at the Singapore Air Show

Recently the Asian fighter jet market has been very active. Dassault’s “Rafale” has gotten numerous orders in a row, and even Iraq is interested in purchasing one, putting the US and Russia in the spotlight. Turkey, a growing star in the military aviation business, even brought the model TF-X fifth-generation stealth fighter at the Singapore Air Show. It was hardly what the outside world expected at the Singapore Air Show. The TF-X, like the F-22, J-20, and Su-57, is a heavy twin engine fifth-generation aircraft.

The Singapore Airshow is one of Asia’s most prominent international airshows, hosted at Changi International Airport. Turkey also sent a full-scale model of the TF-X to the show, which has yet to start producing prototypes. According to Airbus satellite pictures, the TF-X outdoor booth is located in a prominent corner. Turkey is clearly eager to receive orders, funds, and technology from the Asian region.

TF-X at the Singapore Airshow
TF-X at the Singapore Airshow

Don’t be fooled by Turkey’s self-proclaimed “quasi-EU” and NATO allies; the TF-X, a cutting-edge fighter created for the first time in the country’s aviation history, is truly “Asian. Earlier South Korea, Turkey, and Indonesia collaborated on the first such fighter. Turkey later withdrew from the project owing to disputes in the share of collaboration and partners (South Korea chose Lockheed Martin, and Turkish Aviation Industry Corporation TAI found British BAE Systems).

Airbus satellite photo, the lower right corner is the TF-X model, one circle larger than the F-35 in the upper right corner
Airbus satellite photo, the lower right corner is the TF-X model, one circle larger than the F-35 in the upper right corner

If you look closely at this satellite image, you’ll notice that the TF-X is far larger than the American F-35 stealth fighter parked nearby. According to TAI data, TF-X has a wingspan of 21 metres, which makes it larger than the F-22 and Su-57. The TF-X is a heavy fifth-generation stealth fighter, with the indicators aligned with the F-22, Su-57, and J-20. The F-35 is only more than 15 metres long, while the FC-31 “Falcon” and South Korea’s KF-21 are both 17 metres long, indicating that the TF-X is a heavy fifth-generation stealth fighter.

As a result, TF-X planned to use the EJ200 advanced medium-thrust turbofan engine from the European “Typhoon” fighter, but instead chose the General Electric F110 from the United States, which is a kind of strange. While The fourth-generation high-thrust Russian Saturn AL-31 turbofan engine has a thrust ratio of about 7.

The Turkish aero-engine industry is almost blank, unable to develop fifth-generation high-thrust military turbofan engines like F119 (F-22) and F135 (F-35) with a thrust ratio of 10, and can only choose ready-made products from the United States , F110 is also the standard engine of the F-16 of the Turkish Air Force. It is no problem to use the “fourth generation engine” to transition for the “fifth generation aircraft”.

But the problem is that the TF-X is far behind schedule, even in composite airframe construction, in radar, avionics and weapons systems. Not to mention compared with the J-20 and Su-57 that have been in service, even compared with the KF-21 in South Korea, Korea has produced its first prototype, and the technical status has been frozen. If everything goes according to plan then KAI expects the TF-X will take to the skies for the first time in 2025, which is clearly overly optimistic.

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