SEOUOL, (BM) – The long-awaited premiere of the South Korean fifth-generation fighter KAI KF-X will take place in April this year. The local arms supply agency announced the news. Production of the KAI KF-X prototype is going according to plan.
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The Korean fighter is known as eXperimental, but the media uses the prototype – KF-X. This will be a significant moment for the country and the Korean aerospace industry, said Jung Kwang-sun. He heads the KF-X program at the Ministry of Defense.
Jung Kwang-sun says the country will finally have “something to see” in April. Then it will become clear whether the prototype can fly.
South Korea’s fifth-generation fighter program began nearly six years ago. Seoul is expected to present the world’s prototype of its aircraft in April. Gradually, South Korea will show the next five prototypes by the end of 2022. However, Seoul will find out if eXperimental can fly only in 2022. Until then, the company will conduct ground tests of the fighter’s systems.
What are the expectations?
South Korea needs to replace its obsolete F-4 and F-5 fighters. The Asians hope to fill their air fleet with new fighters and turn the KF-X into a competitor in international markets. And the search for such fighters is yet to reach its peak.
South Korea hopes the KF-X will be a real competitor to the US F-35 and F-22. Seoul has its competitive advantages mainly in the price and technological capability of the fighter. KF-X is a 4 ++ generation fighter project, but the hardware and software used will upgrade the next versions. It is rumored that KF-X will have improved stealth technology.
Although countries with large military budgets are developing their versions of fifth-generation fighters, the KF-X will find a market. In addition to local, KF-X is expected to enter the region among Asian countries and the Balkans. Turkey is one of the likely customers of South Korean production.
French air-to-air missile on KF-X
MBDA has been awarded a contract from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to integrate the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile onto the KF-X future Korean fighter aircraft.
The contract includes integration support to KAI, transfer of know-how, and manufacture of test equipment for the KF-X integration and trials campaign.
Meteor is the world’s most advanced air-to-air missile. It has a unique ramjet propulsion system that allows it to fly further and faster than any other air-to-air missile – allowing it to defeat maneuvering targets even at extreme ranges.
Éric Béranger, CEO of MBDA, said in 2019: “We’re very pleased to mark this next and important step in our partnership with KAI and the Korean Defence Acquisition Program Administration. South Korea is a strategic market for MBDA, and we’re proud that Meteor will be providing KF-X with the world’s most powerful air-to-air capability.”
KF-X will have a radar with an active phased array antenna
Last August, South Korea has presented a prototype radar of its design, equipped with an active phased array antenna.
It is known that Hanwha Systems and the Korean Defense Development Agency (ADD) developed the radar. The presentation of the product took place on August 7, 2020.
According to South Korean officials, the radar will soon begin to undergo ground tests. Besides, a test installation of the product on the KF-X prototype is planned. Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, will take part in the test program.
There are still few details about AESA’s radar, which officials describe as “a state-of-the-art system capable of detecting and tracking over 1,000 targets simultaneously.” Earlier, Seoul reported that the radar station would include approximately 1000 transceiver modules.
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