Lately, it seems as if every nation on Earth is working on a fifth/sixth generation fighter. So many projects are in the offing that we wouldn’t be surprised if several third world countries jumped on the band wagon, claiming they too have the ability to develop and field an aircraft that can hold its own against either the F-22 or F-35. Frankly, its hard to take some would-be candidates seriously, among them Iran’s supposed IAIO Qaher-313 “Conqueror”, which was shown taxiing around an airfield a couple of year’s back, with no real attempt to take off.
The latest nation to unveil efforts to deploy a stealth aircraft is Turkey, who, at the recent Paris Air Show, showed off conceptual drawings and a CGI-rendered video of their TF-X program, which looks remarkably similar to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Apart from sporting two engines as opposed to one, it might be difficult to tell the two aircraft apart, no doubt paying homage to an aircraft they were supposed to purchase but were denied approval because they were pandering to Russia.
Developed in response to the US refusal to sell Turkey the F-35 stealth fighter because they chose to purchase S-400 missiles from Russia instead of a NATO-aligned nation, the TF-X is currently scheduled to enter service in 2028, provided it can overcome a myriad of hurdles associated with building a true fifth generation fighter. In fact, Turkey has little experience building an indigenous aircraft, its aging fleet of US-built F-16 Falcons representing its last foray into acquiring a cutting edge aircraft. Amazingly, the nimble F-16 is still serving as its front line fighter, and will likely do so well into the 2030s. Frankly, its hard to take Turkish Aerospace and the Turkish government seriously with its proposed TF-X program when other nations — with far more experience building aircraft and deeper pockets to fund them — are already looking towards building a sixth generation fighter that could outclass the TF-X before it can even be deployed.