South Korea Drops 5th-Generation Fighter Plan


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May 6, 2009
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23 Jul 2009 17:29

SEOUL - South Korea will refocus its KF-X fighter-development program, which aimed to create a fifth-generation stealth fighter, and instead solicit foreign firms' help in producing about 250 F-16-class fighter jets after 2010, according to a research institute here.The Weapon Systems Concept Development and Application Research Center of Konkuk University was ordered in April by the government to look at the feasibility of the controversial KF-X effort, which originally aimed to produce and market about 120 aircraft, stealthier than Dassault's Rafale or the Eurofighter Typhoon but not as stealthy as Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II.

On May 18, the center told major foreign aircraft manufacturers that the South Korean military wants to replace older F-4s and F-5s with a lesser fighter, one on par with the F-16 Block 50. In a letter, the center sent detailed operational requirements for the new jet, which is to have basic stealth technology and a domestically built active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

"Korea has been evaluated with the capacity of 63 percent of necessary technology if the total technology is assumed 100 percent," the letter said. "That … means that self-development of aircraft is possible with joint development of core technology … and technology transfer from abroad."

On May 29, the center asked Boeing, Eurofighter, Lockheed Martin and Saab about their views on the per-plane cost estimate of $50 million, as well as budget-sharing ideas and technology transfer.

The center will wrap up the feasibility study by October. The Ministry of National Defense will issue a decision on the KF-X initiative by year's end.

South Korea Drops 5th-Generation Fighter Plan - Defense News

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