Turkiye invites Malaysia to partner in stealth fighter jet programme

KUALA LUMPUR, May 8: Turkiye’s Deputy Defence Minister Dr. Celal Sami Tüfekçi has extended an invitation to Malaysia to partner in the development of its fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, KAAN, which undertook its maiden flight in February.

Emphasising the mutual advantages of this collaboration, Tüfekçi highlighted Malaysia’s potential to harness substantial benefits, not only in bolstering its military capabilities but also in accessing cutting-edge fighter jet technology. 

“I think being a partner in the KAAN programme will be good for Malaysia. The KAAN aircraft is a fifth-generation stealth fighter and it is a huge programme. We will be happy if Malaysia decides to be a partner,” he told Bernama on the sidelines of the Defence Services Asia (DSA) and National Security (NatSec) Asia 2024 exhibition here.

He said the fighter jet had a second successful flight on Monday (May 6) and Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc (Turkish Aerospace) will continue to improve the aircraft.

KAAN, Turkiye’s homegrown fighter jet, marks another milestone in the country’s endeavour to upgrade its air force and reduce external dependency.

KAAN took off early Monday morning and was airborne for 14 minutes as scheduled, reaching an altitude of 10,000 feet and a speed of 230 knots. 

Tüfekçi emphasised that it is no small feat to design and manufacture an aircraft, noting the need for extensive experience, adding that Turkiye is seeking more opportunities in the aerospace sector. 

“Currently, we have Turkish Aerospace operating in Cyberjaya with 120 local engineers. By participating in aircraft design, they’ll gain valuable skills and help shape the industry. This could lead to the establishment of new companies and boost Malaysia’s defence sector,” he explained.

He mentioned that Turkey also has a Littoral Mission Ship (LMS) project, which has been under discussion with Malaysia and is nearing the stage of contract signing.

“Turkiye has a strong maritime sector as well and we are now negotiating to supply the LMS to Malaysia. We also have other state-owned companies and many private shipyards… some of them participating in DSA,” he said.      

Regarding technology transfer between the two nations, Tüfekçi highlighted that there have been discussions, particularly focused on helicopter technology. 

“If Malaysia starts a helicopter programme with Turkiye, some parts for our Gokturk Utility Helicopter can be developed here and it can be assembled locally by the Malaysian defence industry. Furthermore, one of our companies, Aselsan, is establishing a branch here,” he said.

He said that Turkey aspires to play a substantial role in supplying military assets across the Asia Pacific region, with Malaysia as a central hub, and emphasised the importance of collaboration between the two countries’ defence industries to manufacture and distribute such products throughout the region.

He said Turkiye also aims to play a significant role in supplying military assets in the Asia Pacific region and wants Malaysia to be the hub, through collaboration between the countries’ defence industries should collaborate to manufacture and deliver military products around the Asia Pacific region.

“The Asia Pacific region is very important for us and we can trust Malaysia to be our hub in this region. Turkiye has spent 40 years developing its defence industry and for the last 20 years, it has accelerated. We started by partnering with Western companies and being their manufacturing platform,” he said. 

He added, that Turkiye recognised the necessity of developing its own fighter aircraft, helicopters, and weapon systems to avoid limiting their capabilities.