Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) plans to unveil a prototype of South Korea’s first indigenous fighter jet in April, the arms procurement agency has said.
According to the arms procurement agency, KAI is set to roll out the first prototype of its next-generation fighter jet, better known as the Korean Fighter eXperimental (KF-X) aircraft.
Jung Kwang-sun, heading the KF-X program at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, said the planned rollout event will be a “landmark moment” for the country and the aerospace industry.
“After working only with the blueprint so far, we will now have something we can actually see and test whether what we have been studying actually works,” Jung told reporters at the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) headquarters in the southern city of Sacheon on Wednesday.
South Korea has been working on the next-generation fighter development project since late 2015 to replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 jets.
A total of six prototypes are in the final stages of assembly at the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) headquarters in Sacheon, Gyeongsang Province. Test flights will be carried out next year, following ground testing after the April roll-out.
The first flight is expected to occur on July 2022 following a year of ground testing. 2nd and 3rd prototypes will finish assembly by the end of the year and 4th, 5th and 6th by next year.
Officials expressed expectations that the KF-X fighter jets will compete in the global market with fifth-generation fighter jets such as the U.S. aerospace giant Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and F-22, based on price and technology competitiveness. According to the KAI, the KF-X is designed as a 4.5-generation jet whose basic hardware and platform could be used for further development and conversion into a fifth-generation one with improved “stealth” technologies.
The Korean Defense Photo Lab also released new photos from South Korea’s next-gen fighter jet assembly line. The first prototype aircraft is about 92% assembled.