ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s aerospace authorities have chosen General Electric’s F110 family of engines to power the prototype and an initial batch of what will become Turkey’s first indigenous fighter jet, the TF-X.
A senior procurement official confirmed the choice, saying that the twin-engine TF-X will be powered by the F110-GE-129 or the F110-GE-132 engine.
“This is a stopgap solution until we have built our indigenous engine for the TF-X,” the official said.
Under the deal, the first prototype of the TF-X and an unknown number of initial batches would be powered by the F110 engine.
Turkey then plans to switch to an engine to be developed by TRMotor, a national engine consortium.
But some aerospace sources say the F110 may not be the ideal engine for a fifth=generation fighter. “If the Turks go for the GE option, they will have to compromise on the stealth capabilities of the TF-X,” a Paris-based defense specialist said.
Earlier this year, Turkey and Rolls-Royce came close to a strategic cooperation deal for the development and co-production of an engine for the TF-X. The British company and the Turkish government signed a letter of intent to finalize negotiations on the engine program by July 31, but the plan did not come to fruition.
Turkish officials say the idea behind the GE deal is to rely on foreign technology to eventually in the long term build an indigenous engine to power the TF-X.
Turkey wants to build the TF-X with know-how from BAE Systems. In January 2017, Britain and Turkey signed a deal worth more than £100 million (U.S. $128 million) to develop the Turkish fighter jet.
Turkey hopes to have the first test flights of the aircraft in 2023.
Burak Ege Bekdil is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News, and worked as Ankara bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.