Korean Aerospace Industry to Roll Out First KF-X Prototype

Korean Fighter eXperimental proves 5th generation of fighter aircraft is almost here.
Utku Kucukduner

Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced that it is planning to unveil the prototype for its versatile fighter plane Korean Fighter eXperimental (KF-X) in April 2021.

The company's magazine Fly Together's latest issue included an image of the prototype KF-X's fuselage. The issue included no other comment about the program but the defense and security intel news agency, Janes believes that it'll make its first real-world flight in 2022.

The only aircraft manufacturer of South Korea, KAI is currently manufacturing and assembling the top, bottom, and middle parts of the fuselage of the fifth-generation fighter craft and we'll just have to wait for a bit more to see the final picture.

The benchmark scores for Korean Fighter eXperimental is expected to improve with each "Block" of the production program. We will be seeing Block 0 prototypes in Spring next year. After that, the company will follow through with four years of trial and issue the finalized aircraft around mid-2026.

Block 1 of the KF-X aircraft is expected between 2026 and 2028. They'll partially come equipped with air-to-ground and air-to-air weapon systems.

Block 2 KF-Xs, which are expected after around 2029 will have a full and proper arsenal of air-to-ground and air-to-air weapon systems and be mission-ready all around.

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On another note, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) officials reported to Janes that Hanwha Systems and the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) will cooperatively develop an active electronically scanned array radar (AESA)  for KF-X around August. 

KAI officials also told the press that “... we have received 15 engines from General Electric to power six prototypes, with each requiring two engines. The remaining three are spares.”

KF-X is planned to replace Korea's F-4D/E Phantom 2 and F-5E/F Tiger 2 fleet once it's complete. Currently, there are 120 KF-X planned for production for the Korean Air Force. General Electrics will provide 240 engines and an appropriate amount of spare ones.

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