KF-X Fighter: Korea’s Future Homegrown Jet

Lockheed Martin staff are visiting South Korea this week to further discuss the transfer of technologies in relation to the development of the $6.9 billion KF-X fighter program.

19th Nov 2015


 

KF-X Fighter: Korea’s Future Homegrown Jet

  Lockheed Martin staff are visiting South Korea this week to further discuss the transfer of technologies in relation to the development of the $6.9 billion KF-X fighter program. The talks come following a recent refusal by the US to allow the transfer of the four core technologies necessary for the program which could put the future of its development in jeopardy. Despite this, both Lockheed and the South Korean government are confident that the transfer of another 21 technologies will go ahead as planned with possibly some minor alterations to the technologies initially listed. The State Department however did approve the sale of 19 UGM-84L Harpoon Block II All-Up-Round Missiles and 13 Block II upgrade kits totally $110 million.

South Korea has been thinking seriously about designing its own fighter jet since 2008. The ROK defense sector has made impressive progress, and has become a notable exporter of aerospace, land, and naval equipment. The idea of a plane that helps advance their aerospace industry, while making it easy to add new Korean-designed weapons, is very appealing. On the flip side, a new jet fighter is a massive endeavor at the best of times, and wildly unrealistic technical expectations didn’t help the project. KF-X has progressed in fits and starts, and became a multinational program when Indonesia joined in June 2010. As of March 2013, however, South Korea has decided to put the KF-X program on hold for 18 months, while the government and Parliament decide whether it’s worth continuing.

Indonesia has reportedly contributed IDR 1.6 trillion since they joined in July 2010 – but that’s just $165 million of the DAPA’s estimated WON 6 billion (about $5.5 billion) development cost, and there’s good reason to believe that even this development budget is too low. This article discusses the KFX/IFX fighter’s proposed designs and features, and chronicles the project’s progress and setbacks since 2008…

 

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