Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has announced that it will collaborate with the state-owned Pakistan Aeronautical Complex to deploy the National Combat Aircraft MMU beginning in 2030.
The announcement came during an interview with Aaj News by TAI President and Chief Executive Officer Temel Kotil. He stated that Turkey and Pakistan would jointly carry out the project. However, he did not provide any further details on the fighter jet or its development.
Also referred to as the TF-X, the fifth-generation jet is expected to meet the operational requirements of both countries, replacing their Lockheed Martin jets currently in service.
The two countries plan to develop a prototype in 2023 and conduct the aircraft’s maiden flight in 2026.
Pakistan plans to have a fifth-generation jet fleet by 2047. The TF-X program is the first step toward the induction of the first fifth-generation fighter jet into their fleet.
Turkish Aerospace Industries will lead the program and employ engineers from Pakistan.
TAI opened its first office in Pakistan at the country’s first technology park — the National Science & Technology Park — in 2019. The two countries have been involved in multiple defense projects, including the procurement of helicopters and drone development.
Turkey’s Upgrade Plan
Turkey has a fleet of old F-16 Falcons in need of upgrades and repairs. In January, arch-rival Greece procured Rafale fighter jets, shifting the balance of power away from Ankara.
With the development of the TF-X, Turkey plans to build indigenous next-gen fighters comparable to the F-35.
Turkey had planned to procure F-35s from the US. However, ties between the two countries soured after Turkey purchased the Russian S-400 missile system. After extended discussions and political wrangling, the United States expelled the country from the stealth fighter project.