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ADEX 2017: KAI refining KFX configuration ahead of key milestones

17 October 2017
While the baseline twin-engined configuration for the KFX has been decided upon, the final refinements are being made ahead of upcoming design reviews. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is in the process of refining the final configuration of its Korean Fighter Experimental (KFX) aircraft ahead of a number of milestones that are due in the coming months and years, Jane’s was told on 17 October.

Speaking at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) 2017, a senior programme official said that, while the baseline twin-jet configuration has been chosen, the final refinements are now taking place ahead of a planned preliminary design review (PDR) mid next year.

“We are putting the final touches on the configuration, and plan to have a PDR in June 2018,” the official who asked not to be named said, adding that this PDR would be followed by a critical design review (CDR) in September 2019; a rollout of the first prototype in 2022; and an entry into service in 2026.

The KFX fighter was first revealed by South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) in 2010. Indonesia joined the project in 2012, with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) covering joint development of the platform that Jakarta refers to as IFX.

KAI is leading the USD8 billion project in partnership with Lockheed Martin, with Indonesia expected to invest USD1 billion to acquire fighter aircraft technologies, knowledge of production techniques, and an option to procure up to 50 fighters at a later date. Jakarta should also benefit from any future exports of the aircraft.

While initial operational capability (IOC) for the KFX/IFX was planned for 2023, budgetary constraints and concerns over technical risk prompted KAI to re-align the programme from a ‘fifth-generation’ fighter into a less sophisticated '4.5 generation'.

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