Turkey has celebrated several defence aerospace milestones in recent days, including the first flight of the Turkish Aerospace (TAI) Kaan fighter and continued progress with the Baykar Technologies Akinci unmanned air vehicle.

The first flight of the Kaan took place on 21 February, according to TAI. During a 13min sortie the twin-engined jet reached a top speed of 230kt (448km/h) and an altitude of 8,000ft.

TAI Kaan

Source: Turkish Aerospace

The Kaan’s first flight took place on 21 February, although original plans called for a 2023 maiden sortie

The first flight – originally planned for late 2023 – was reportedly operated from Akinci air base, which lies northwest of the country’s capital, Ankara.

At the Paris air show last year, TAI chief executive Temel Kotil said that by 2028 the company aims to deliver 20 Kaan fighters to the Turkish air force in an initial Block 10 configuration. As the programme matures, subsequent deliveries will be in a new Block 20 standard.

The Kaan is powered by a pair of GE Aerospace F110 engines, but an indigenous powerplant is in development.

Beyond Turkey, Azerbaijan signalled interest in the fighter with a 2023 protocol to explore participation in the project.

Source: Turkish Aerospace Industries

The first flight of the Kaan

In August 2023, Turkish defence minister Yasar Guler tweeted that Pakistan was also interested in Kaan, but this may have been contradicted in January, when Pakistan air force chief Zaheer Sidhu suggested that preparations have been underway to obtain the Shenyang FC-31/J-31 fighter from China.

Separately, Baykar last week reached two milestones with its Akinci UAV. The first saw the aircraft use the Aselsan ASELFLIR-500 electro-optical/infrared sensor to track and destroy an unmanned surface vehicle at sea. To destroy the target the UAV deployed locally-developed MAM-series smart munitions from Roketsan.

Days later, on 24 February, the Akinci C took flight powered by new, more powerful engines. The Akinci C is powered by a pair of 850hp (625kW) engines for a total of 1,700hp, compared with 900hp for the Akinci A and 1,500hp for the Akinci B.

The Akinci A’s original engines were of Ukrainian origin, manufactured by Ivchenko-Progress. Baykar has not stated the provenance of the Akinci B/C’s engines.