The South Korean acquisition agency (Defense Acquisition Program Administration / DAPA) has announced that the first prototype of the new national fighter, the so-called Korean Fighter eXperimental (KF-X), will be presented next April. The ad was accompanied by a photo of the nearly finished KF-X on the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) assembly line, practically ready for presentation or being rolled out of the hangar.
Jung Kwang-sun, DAPA, in charge of the KF-X program, said during a visit to the KAI plant in Dingon, where the first KF-X was built, that the planned launch of the twin-engine multipurpose fighter was a “moment. Historic” for the country and its aerospace industry. “Having previously only worked at the engineering drawing level, we will now have something that we can really see and test to see if what we have studied really works.”
The first KF-X project, valued at more than 6,000 million euros, enables the withdrawal of the veteran fleets of the F-4D / E Phantom II and Northrop F-5E / F Tiger II combat aircraft from the Korean Air Force. The KF-X is technically an aircraft that is vastly superior to the Lockheed Martin F-16C / D, although it is slightly below the 5th generation F-35A from the same manufacturer.
Development of the KF-X began in 2015 and is expected to be completed in 2026. In total, the Korean Air Force will purchase an initial batch of 40 units by 2028 and an additional 80 units by 2032. The published images show that the first prototype was already equipped with the F414-GE-400K engines from General Electric (GE) Aviation. Likewise, the prototype will have a dark gray color with low visibility which, along with the materials it is made of, will achieve an important stealth or stealth capacity by absorbing the aircraft’s radar signature. The first flight will take place in 2022. (Julio Maz)
Photo: First prototype of KF-X on the assembly line at the Dingon plant. (Photo KAI)
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