ISTANBUL — Turkey’s first locally made combat aircraft, dubbed Kaan, completed its maiden flight at the Akinci air base near Ankara on Wednesday.

The CEO of manufacturer Turkish Aerospace Industries, Temel Kotil, tweeted that the first flight took 13 minutes. The aircraft registered a speed of 230 knots and reached an altitude of 8,000 feet, he added.

Turkey initiated the combat aircraft development program in December 2010. A conceptual design contract was signed between the government and the company in August 2011. A development contract followed in August 2016.

The program aims to field a fifth-generation combat aircraft to meet Turkish Air Force requirements beyond 2030s, replacing the country’s F-16 fleet. Turkey aims to become one of the few countries possessing the entire value chain for making advanced combat aircraft, covering everything from technology, infrastructure, human resources and manufacturing capabilities.

With a wingspan of about 46 feet and length of 69 feet, the Kaan is equipped with two engines. The prototype is powered by two General Electric-made F110-GE-129 turbofan engines, which are to be used in early production batches. Turkey is now working on the development of an indigenous turbofan engine for the Kaan by local company TRMotor.

The fighter program is expected to incorporate most of the characteristics of a standard fifth-generation aircraft, such as low observability, internal weapons bays, sensor fusion, advanced data links and communications systems. The aircraft are to be in service until the 2070s.

The current contract covers the initial four years of the program, which will be concluded with the completion of the preliminary design phase. Until then, further testing and technology maturation activities are on the schedule.

In December 2022, the head of TAI said the initial delivery of Kaan was scheduled for 2028. After 2029, the aim is to produce two jets per month, totally 24 jets per year.

The jet that flew Wednesday was a ground test unit. Now, the manufacturer will make five more prototypes, for which the government bought 10 F110 engines.

In a TV interview last week, the Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, expressed interest in the aircraft.

Cem Devrim Yaylali is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He is a keen photographer of military ships and has a passion for writing about naval and defense issues. He was born in Paris, France, and resides in Istanbul, Turkey. He is married with one son.

Tayfun Ozberk is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News.

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