South Korean aerospace giant KAI is moving ahead with the aircraft development programme as it aims to produce an Indigenous advanced multirole fighter for the Republic of Korea Air Force.
The company has recently passed a major milestone marks the beginning of the final assembly process of the first fighter in Sacheon, South Korea, where electronics, radar, and various other subsystems will be installed.
The fighter jet is expected to be officially rolled out in April 2021. The first test flight is anticipated in 2022, with mass production scheduled to begin in 2028. South Korea expects to deploy 120 of the aircraft into service by 2032.
South Korea expects to deploy 120 of the aircraft into service by 2032, replacing its air force’s ageing McDonnell Douglas F-4D/E Phantom IIs and Northrop F-5E/F Tiger IIs.
A total of six prototypes will be built to undergo testing until the production model KF-X enters service in 2026.
KF-X is a ‘4.5th’ generation fighter jet with a future plan for fifth generation conversion. It already has space allocated for internal weapons bay and the software development reflects this.
In June GE Aviation delivered the first F414 engine for the twin-engined jet. GE will deliver 15 additional F414s to power the six prototypes, of which one example will go to programme partner Indonesia. Hanwha Aerospace will license produce the F414 locally.