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South Korea officially kicks off KF-X fighter jet program

World Aviation Defense & Security News - South Korea
South Korea officially kicks off KF-X fighter jet program
South Korea on Thursday announced the launch of projects to introduce indigenous fighter jets in the mid-2020s, kick-starting the journey that has spawned much controversy following the U.S. rejection to transfer key technologies.
South Korea officially kicks off KF X fighter jet program 640 001KAI's KF-X fighter aircraft project
The country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) held a commencement meeting in the headquarters of contractor Korea Aerospace Industries in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province. Some 200 government and industry officials as well as military scientists also from partner countries of the U.S. and Indonesia reviewed the program and pledged for its success.

We will make utmost efforts to deploy in time superb fighter jets that our Air Force needs and people can be proud of,” DAPA head Chang Myoung-jin said in his congratulatory address.

Under the plan, the arms procurement agency will complete the design of the aircraft in 2019, unveil six units of the prototype KF-16-class warplane starting 2021 and conduct flight tests until 2026. A total of 120 planes will then be assembled by 2032. The project, dubbed KF-X, or Boramae, was first floated in 2002.

DAPA also aims to increase the ratio of homegrown components to 65 percent in terms of prices by localizing some 90 items including active electronically scanned array radar and electro-optical targeting pods.

The two systems are among the four technologies that Seoul has failed to secure from U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin Corp. due to Washington’s veto, darkening the outlook for the initiative’s success.

DAPA reiterated its commitment to nail down the technologies and pull off the project according to schedule through research and development at home and cooperation with other countries, such as the U.K., Israel or Sweden.

For objective assessment and management of any risks that may arise while carrying out the program, we plan to consult closely with a parliamentary risk management subcommittee and Defense Ministry panel and other expert groups and minimize them,” the agency said in a statement.