South Korea is set to introduce the world with the prototype of its next-gen fighter jet, which is being called the Korean Fighter KF-X aircraft. The fighter jet will be rolled out next month for the first time.
Korea is producing a total of six prototypes that have already reached their final stage of production. They were built and now are undergoing some final touch-ups at Korean Aerospace Industries in Sacheon Gyeongsang Province. These prototypes will undergo ground testing once their first roll-out occurs in April, followed by their flight testing.
The aerospace engineers and experts believe that the KF-X next-gen Korean fighter aircraft will have a considerable economic effect. It will aid in accelerating the domestic production of fighter jet parts. Its full development period planned by 2028 will create about 110,000 jobs on its way to completion. The project that gained the government’s trust back in 2015, then getting funded accordingly, has already created 10,000 jobs, making a positive impact on Korea’s economy.
The newly built Korean fighter jet is expected to compete in technology with the U.S Airforce fighter jets like Lockheed Martin’s F-22 and F-35, respectively. As per the Korean Aerospace Industry, the new next-gen fighter jet KF-X is designed as a 4.5 generation jet whose basic platform could be further used to upgrade to make it a fifth-gen fighter with better stealth technologies.
“As the KF-X has been equipped with hardware to become a stealth fighter, we are currently exploring ways to apply stealth technologies to the jet, although we have yet to specify details for further developments as the military has yet to present the details necessary for further developments after Block I and Block II stages of the KF-X development project,” Jung Kwang, director of the KF-X Program, told reporters who visited KAI headquarters on 24th Feb.
The project is an evolving one and will reach its final stage, completing two production phases. The first phase is termed Block 1, which started in 2016 and will go on till 2026. This phase will develop the basic system of the next-gen fighter aircraft. Block 2 would be for two years and will be focusing on adding modern weapon systems on the aircraft till 2028.
Promoting Korea’s domestic market, most of the parts for this indigenous next-gen aircraft are being developed locally, including its core equipment such as active electronically scanned array radar, infrared search and track equipment, electro-optical target tracking devices, and its electronic warfare suite. Precisely, sixty-five percent of its parts are being developed locally.
The new aircraft will carry 7.7 tons of weapons in its flight. Its weapon system would include 10 stations and almost fifty different weapon combinations. The total fuel capacity of the new aircraft is 5.3 tons and is designed for refueling mid-air.