ANKARA, Turkey — Rolls-Royce’s European consortium is expected to face rivalry from a local manufacturer in a Turkish competition for the design, development and production of a jet engine for the TF-X, the Turkish indigenous fighter aircraft in the making.
Turkish procurement officials confirmed the British company’s participation in the bidding.
“They are definitely in the picture,” said one senior official familiar with the TF-X program.
In October 2015, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Turkey and Rolls-Royce on technological know-how and a production unit. Under the plan, Rolls-Royce will launch an advanced manufacturing and technology center in Turkey — the company’s eighth such unit worldwide.
A year later, in October 2016, Rolls-Royce offered joint production partnership to Turkey with a view to powering planned Turkish platforms and potential sales to third parties. Rolls-Royce’s proposal involved a production unit in Turkey to manufacture engines for the TF-X as well as for helicopters, tanks and missiles.
In a rival bid, state-controlled engine maker Tusas Engine Industries, or TEI, submitted Dec. 15 its own offer to the country’s procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, or SSM. TEI is a sister company of Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI, the prime local contractor for the TF-X program.
Turkey’s defense procurement authorities have recently given pace to their work to select an engine know-how supplier that will be the backbone of the TF-X.
SSM officials say they aim at maturing their decision on the TF-X engine early in 2018. In addition to efforts for selecting an immediate engine for the national fighter jet, Turkish authorities hope to develop an indigenous engine in the long term.
Industry sources say the engine selection is the most critical phase in the TF-X program. “All other design work will depend on the engine to be selected,” said one TAI official. “Once we have decided on the engine, the rest of the program will automatically gain pace.”
Rolls-Royce has been offering its EJ200 engine to power the first Turkish indigenous fighter jet. Terms of production, know-how, technology transfers and export licences are among the main topics being discussed.
The EJ200 is a collaborative engine between Rolls-Royce, MTU, Avio and ITP. The consortium established Eurojet Turbo GmbH in the late 1980s. Rolls-Royce says the EJ200 technology makes the engine both smaller and simpler in layout than current engines of a similar thrust class, while giving it lower fuel consumption and an unprecedented power-to-weight ratio.
Rolls-Royce has so far delivered more than 1,100 EJ200 engines. It has a thrust range from 13,500 pound-force dry to 20,000 pound-force with reheat.
Burak Ege Bekdil is the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.