Seoul unveiled the complete mock-up model of KAI KF-X at Seoul ADEX 2019, the South Korea’s fifth generation multirole fighter.

According to Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the design of South Korea’s KF-X multirole fighter has been completed. Expected, the manufacturer will introduce the first prototype of KF-X in the next 3 years.

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The KF-X will use stealth technology, which has six hardpoints under the wings, two external fuel tanks, two bombs and two Diehl Defense IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missiles.

The lower right front nose is a mock-up of the Lockheed Martin Sniper target viewfinder, used to launch four MBDA Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles under the fuselage.

Although the plane is similar in design to Lockheed’s F-35A, the Korean model lacks some stealthy American-style technical features. The 20 mm cannon hole, an optoelectronic sensor that Infrared search and track (IRST) protrudes above the body in front of the canopy of the cockpit, similar to a Typhoon aircraft.

KAI KF-X at Seoul ADEX 2019
KAI KF-X at Seoul ADEX 2019

KF-X will be put into service in the South Korean Air Force in 2026, officially began to be exploited and used as a tactical strike weapon system on the battlefield.

The rear of the KF-X mock-up model
The rear of the KF-X mock-up model

The KF-X Block I aircraft has no internal weapon bay, but these shortcomings are planned to be adapted for the more advanced variants that will follow.

During this exhibition, Seoul did not mention an important partner in the KF-X project, the Indonesian. Jakarta is a partner with a total investment of up to 20% in the $ 7.2 billion aircraft development program, and is currently trying to renegotiate its financial investment commitments.

KAI KF-X has many similarities with the US F-35A
KAI KF-X has many similarities with the US F-35A

In September 2019, Seoul completed the basic design review of the KF-X stealth fighter, paving the way for prototype development in the first half of 2021.

The aircraft is powered by two GE14 F414 engines. As planned, the KF-X prototype will make the first flight in the first half of 2022, put into operation in 2026. The aircraft must have the same capabilities as the advanced versions of the Lockheed F-16. KF-X is the aircraft that will replace the McDonnell Douglas F-4 and Northrop F-5 aircraft in South Korea.

In fact, the world’s defense industry will by then grow tremendously, applying various stealth technologies, and air weapons systems will have many changes, threatening KF-X will be outdated quickly, as soon as it is operational.


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