South Korean KAI Unveils Fifth Generation Combat Aircraft Mockup

KAI KFX

Seoul – On the international aerospace exhibition in Seoul, South Korean manufacturer Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) have introduced full-size mockup of next generation combat aircraft.

The KFX is the fifth generation fight aircraft program Jointly developed by South Korea and Indonesia. The $7.4 billions development cost will be shared by both countries where South Korea shares 60% cost, Indonesia 20% and KAI 20% of the development cost. Korea Aerospace Industries, or KAI, is the prime contractor responsible for the systems development and integration.

Under a 2016 deal, Indonesia is obliged to pay around $1.3 billion to acquire up to 48 jets called IF-X in Indonesia and get the transfer of fighter jet technologies. Instead of paying cash, Indonesia will supply CN235 transport aircraft to South Korea manufactured by Indonesian IPTN.

It may be noted that the layout perspective KFX aircraft which in the future plan to the Air Force of the Republic of Korea, is a kind of combination of the American version of the F-22 and F-35. Moreover, its size is somewhat smaller than that of American fighters. For example, if the length of the F-35 is more than 15 meters, then presented in Seoul at the exhibition layout (and the producers insist that it is a full-size) has a length of 13.45 cm.

The model has six under-wing hard points: two for external fuel tanks, two laser-guided bombs, and two other IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missiles. Four MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles are nestled under the fuselage, while a mock-up of the Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pod is mounted on the right cheek station. The Korean version of the Taurus air-to-ground missile is being developed by LIG Nex1, the country’s precision guided weapons maker.

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KAI spokesman Kim Ji-hyung told that the KF-X can be equipped with U.S. armament, such as Raytheon-built AIM-120C advanced medium-range air-to-air missile, and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, but the U.S. government has yet to approve the export license of the missiles.

KAI will use Hanwha Systems (formerly Samsung Thales) developed AESA radar on the KFX fighter aircraft. Italian Leonardo and Israeli Elta Systems reportedly assisted the development of the AESA radar of KFX aircraft. KF-X AESA has more than 1,000 transmit-receive antenna modules to perform close to the Northrop Grumman APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar that equips the F-16V.

The jet has a max take-off weight of 25,600 kg and a max payload of 7,700 kg, according to KAI. The jet can fly as fast as Mach 1.8 and has a cruising distance of 2,900 km. South Korean Hanwha Techwin will licensed produce General Electric F414KI afterburning turbofan engine for KFX.

The KF-X Block 1 prototype flight wouldn’t take place until September 2020. Based on the history of other programs, the new plane would be hard pressed to enter service before 2025.

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