Korea's 4.5-Generation Fighter KF-X Targets Southeast Asian Market (excerpt)
(Source: Korea Times; published Nov. 12, 2019)
By Jung Da-min
SACHEON, South Korea --- A joint fighter jet development project between South Korea and Indonesia, widely known as the KF-X or Korean Fighter eXperimental aircraft project, has a great potential in the Southeast Asian market with its low price.

The KF-X fighter jet is a 4.5-generation fighter jet whose "stealth" technologies fall behind those of fifth-generation fighters like the U.S.' F-35s or F-22s. The KF-X, however, has a great price advantage with 65 percent of its parts localized.

The project is going smoothly, an official with the Korean Aerospace Industries said Tuesday, during a presentation of the project review for reporters visiting the company headquarters in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province. The South Korean government contracted the KAI in December 2015 to complete the development of KF-X by 2028.

If successfully developed, the KF-X would be a platform targeting the Southeast Asian markets, industry watchers say, as the operating expenses for a KF-X jet are around half of those of the U.S. F-35A.

The KF-X project is the biggest project since the foundation of the South Korean military with its total budget being about 8.8 trillion won ($7.56 billion). The South Korean and Indonesian governments cover 60 percent and 20 percent of the budget, respectively, while South Korean defense companies make 20 percent of contribution.

The 14-year project that began in 2015 is divided into two phases, with the systems development for the basic flight performance and air-to-air combat capability to be completed by 2026, followed by additional armaments for air-to-surface combat capabilities by 2028.

With the critical design review for the KF-X conducted September this year, following the preliminary design review in June 2018, the first KF-X fighter jet prototype is set to be rolled out in the first half of 2021. The first test flight will be conducted a year later. After 2,100 test flights set to be completed by the first half of 2026, the KAI will produce six of the first KF-X fighter jets that year.

The South Korean government unveiled a full-sized mock-up of the KF-X during the International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX), the country's biennial defense exhibition held Oct. 15 to 20. (end of excerpt)


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