Turkey’s Kale Group, Rolls-Royce to set up joint venture to develop aircraft engines
REUTERS photoTurkey’s Kale Group will set up a joint venture company with U.K.-based engineering firm Rolls-Royce to develop civilian and fighter aircraft engines including for Turkey’s planned TF-X fighter jet, the companies announced May 8 at a press meeting.
Kale will hold a 51 percent stake in the joint venture, while Rolls-Royce will have the rest, they noted.
Kale said it aimed to develop both civilian and military aircraft engines including for the TF-X, being developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), one of the several major defense projects that Ankara has recently launched.
“Turkey’s first TF-X aircraft is planned to fly by 2023. Through our joint venture, we predict that we will develop the first products until this date and start serial engine production by 2030, if we are selected to produce the engine within the framework of this project,” said Kale Group Companies Vice President Osman Okyay.
In the initial stage, some 350 Turkish engineers are planned to be hired by the joint venture and be sent to the Rolls-Royce headquarters in the U.K. to get the required engineering trainings, he said, adding that the point was for Kale to give high value to Turkey by producing high-tech products like jet engines.
In 2010, Turkey’s Defense Industry Executive Committee started the TF-X project to replace Turkey’s F-16 and to design, develop and manufacture a fleet that would work together with the stealth F-35.
In January, the U.K. and Turkey signed a defense deal worth more than 100 million British pounds to develop Turkish fighter jets during Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit in Ankara.
The deal involves BAE Systems and TAI working together on the TF-X, which will be the first Turkish-made fighter jet and will replace the F-16 fighter fleet starting from the 2020s.
TAI President Temel Kotil told Anadolu Agency on May 8 that the cooperative works would start very soon, just after a leading defense fair ends in Istanbul this week.
Talks are still continuing regarding who will develop the jet engine for the project.
“In our cooperation with Kale Group, we plan to develop an engine from scratch for the planned TF-X fighter jet. Turkey will hold the intellectual property rights of this key product,” said Chris Cholerton, president of Rolls-Royce Defense Aerospace.
He also noted that one of their priorities would be to use mainly Turkish products and equipment.
Kale Group is a provider of structural components, assemblies and kits to the aerospace and defense industry, through its four companies in this field.
Kale is already in partnership with U.S. giant Pratt & Whitney. The joint venture works to manufacture, assemble and repair the key parts of the F-135 engine of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighters.
Kale Group is also the contractor for the Turbojet engine development project, a milestone in Turkey’s aim to produce domestic aircraft engines.
The group entered the defense and aerospace industry in 1987, and is a supplier to many global defense and aerospace companies.