Turkey Claims New KAAN Fighter Jets ‘Better Than’ America’s F-35s

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) General Manager Temel Kotil has made bold claims about the country’s new KAAN fighter jet, including saying the fifth-generation aircraft is better than US-made F-35s.

The statement was made following the aircraft’s much-anticipated second flight test earlier this month at a military base in Ankara.

“This aircraft is better than the F-35,” Kotil told Turkiye Newspaper. “The F-35 carries six tons, [the KAAN] carries 10 tons of ammunition.”

He further stated that the Turkish fighter jet has two engines compared to its American counterpart, which is powered by a single engine. “Having two engines means more energy and radars illuminating a greater distance,” he said.

Turkey pitting the KAAN against the F-35 may be fueled by the US decision to expel Ankara from the F-35 program after it purchased a Russian air defense system.

The KAAN program began as part of an effort by Turkey to develop its own combat aircraft since it could not receive approval to procure the Lockheed Martin-made fighter jet.

20 KAANs for Delivery

Despite only completing its second flight test, Kotil hinted at the high market expectations for the KAAN.

He said TAI aims to deliver 20 of the new aircraft by 2028, and “many more” between 2030 and 2033.

In Turkey alone, the plan is to acquire hundreds of KAAN aircraft, which will comprise most of the Turkish Air Force’s fighter fleet.

By 2028, the company hopes to manufacture domestically-made engines for the new combat jets.

Equipped with advanced weaponry, the KAAN is reportedly capable of engaging in air-to-air combat and carrying out precision supersonic strikes.

Second Flight Test

On May 6, a TAI test pilot took a KAAN prototype up to 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) for more than 14 minutes.

It happened almost three months after the aircraft made its maiden flight on February 21.

An F-16 jet acted as a safety chase during the second flight test.

With the success of the first and second flights, the KAAN program is a step closer to full-rate production and deployment.

“I wholeheartedly congratulate all our companies, employees, and institutional personnel who contributed to the project, especially our TAI engineers, pilots, and technical teams,” Turkish Defence Industries official Haluk Gorgun said.

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