Perhaps the biggest obstacle to the aircraft's development will be finding a powerplant, particularly if the air force sticks to its single-engine requirement. TAI began talks at last year's Farnborough air show with major engine manufacturers from the U.S., Europe and Russia
“We are looking for the next generation up in performance and we are in contact with all the major engine suppliers,” says Ediz Tarhan, program manager for F-X at TAI. “It might be possible to develop something jointly with TEI,” he notes, referring to Tusas Engine Industries.
Tarhan adds that the company is exploring a number of development models, including teaming with a foreign partner that could help fund the program based on a common baseline set of requirements. A second model could be a partnership with a country that has similar goals in producing a fifth-generation aircraft and would be willing to cooperate in developing, building and ultimately marketing the aircraft for export. South Korea was named in the Turkish press as being interested in joining the project when the concept phase began in 2011. The third model could involve a country or a company partner with experience in fighter design and development to provide technical assistance with the project, in a similar way as Saab is doing at the concept stage.
Turkey has a long way to go before it can realize its ambitions, but the resulting investment and spin-offs from the program could give the country's aviation industry significant credibility in the coming years as well as a product that could be widely exportable to nations unable to join the Joint Strike Fighter program.