Officials from South Korea have continued their negotiations
in Washington over technologies needed for their KF-X
fighter program. A request for AESA radar, infrared search and track, electro-optical target tracking devices, and jammer technology transfers was denied by the Pentagon last year, resulting in Seoul having to pursue the technologies themselves. Speaking on the discussions, Korean Minister for the Defense Acquisition and Procurement Administration (DAPA), Myoung-jin Chang, said “there are additional technologies that we are awaiting approval from the US government and we are pushing for these to be approved and we look forward to your continued support.”
South Korea has been thinking seriously about designing its own fighter jet since 2008. The ROK defense sector has made impressive progress, and has become a notable exporter of aerospace, land, and naval equipment. The idea of a plane that helps advance their aerospace industry, while making it easy to add new Korean-designed weapons, is very appealing. On the flip side, a new jet fighter is a massive endeavor at the best of times, and wildly unrealistic technical expectations didn’t help the project. KF-X has progressed in fits and starts, and became a multinational program when Indonesia joined in June 2010. As of March 2013, however, South Korea has decided to put the KF-X program on hold for 18 months, while the government and Parliament decide whether it’s worth continuing.
Indonesia has reportedly contributed IDR 1.6 trillion since they joined in July 2010 – but that’s just $165 million of the DAPA’s estimated WON 6 billion (about $5.5 billion) development cost, and there’s good reason to believe that even this development budget is too low. This article discusses the KFX/IFX fighter’s proposed designs and features, and chronicles the project’s progress and setbacks since 2008…
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