South Korea’s F-X Fighter Buys: F-35As and F-15Ks
November 24/15: A deal has been signed between between Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and the Indonesian government as part of South Korea’s KF-X fighter program. The agreement includes details of shared costs of the joint engineering and development phase of the fighter. Indonesian contributions to the costs amount to $1.5 billion, about 20% of the costs. KAI was announced as preferred in March by the South Korean Defence Acquisition Production Administration (DAPA) and will collaborate with Indonesia with design and some part production. Planned production of the indigenous fighter will commence in 2025 with Indonesia as one of the first customers as export. Indonesia hopes the collaboration will help their own indigenous development capabilities in future.
The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) originally planned to buy 120 advanced, high-end fighters as its next-generation platform, in order to replace its existing fleet of F-4 Phantom IIs and other aircraft. So far, it has bought 60 fighters in 2 phases. Back in 2002, the South Koreans picked the advanced F-15K derivative of the F-15E Strike Eagle for its F-X Next Generation Fighter Program, and bought 40. In 2008, a 2nd F-X Phase II contract was signed for 20 more F-15ks, with slight modifications.
As the 3rd phase loomed, the question was whether it will be a variant of their existing fleet, or something new. While the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) dreamed of developing their own “5th generation” aircraft for Phase 3, reality eventually had its say. Now, foreign manufacturers are offering the ROKAF a number of off-the-shelf options. But throughout 2013 DAPA couldn’t seem to be able to reconcile the air force’s desire for advanced technology with its budget constraints. Boeing seemed on the edge of winning with its F15-SEs as the sole contender within budget, only to be rejected by the end of September 2013. This reopened the tender with Lockheed Martin’s F-35 as the likely favorite, a choice which was confirmed as 2014 unfolded.
F-X to KF-X: The Best-Laid Plans…
The ROKAF’s F-X-2
F-X-3 and KF-X
Stealth, and the F-X-3 competitors
Contracts & Key Events
2007 and Earlier
Appendix A: Original F-X-2 Candidates
Appendix B: Which SU-35?
Background: F-X-3 Contenders
News & Views
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