South Korea starts KF-X fighter development

(From Korea Times)

6 prototypes will be produced by 2021

By Jun Ji-hye

Korea officially kicked off a project to develop indigenous high-tech fighter jets, Thursday, with the goal of producing six prototypes by 2021 and completing development by 2026.

South Korea KF-X fighter

South Korea KF-X fighter

Officials from all entities involved held their first meeting at the headquarters of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the main contractor, in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province.

They are the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin, the Indonesian Defense Ministry and Indonesia’s state-run defense firm PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI).

The government plans to spend 8.5 trillion won in the development of the KF-X, and an additional 10 trillion won to produce 120 jets by 2032 to replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s.

DAPA said the nation will domestically develop some 90 items necessary for the aircraft, including the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, and electronic optics targeting pod (EOTGP), which the U.S. government earlier refused to hand over to Korea for security reasons.

“Our goal is to localize 65 percent of the components for the aircraft,” DAPA said in a release.

The project will also proceed with the help of Lockheed Martin which will transfer 21 technologies used in the F-35 stealth fighter. In early December, the U.S. government approved the transfer of the technologies in a “large frame,” according to DAPA.

For its part, the Indonesian government will invest some 1.6 trillion won in the project, and its defense firm will participate in the process of design and component production. The country will also be given one prototype and technology data afterward.

But concerns still remain over the possibility that the U.S. might once again refuse to approve the handover of some of the technologies requested by Seoul, as negotiations between DAPA and Lockheed officials are still ongoing to list the details, as hundreds of technical items are part of them. Read more

Categories: Asia Times News & Features, Koreas