Advanced fighter project moves forward [ID14D2]

06 November 2014

Last month Indonesia’s defence minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and South Korean ambassador to Indonesia, Cho Tai-young, signed a joint engineering and development agreement for the KF-X/IF-X fifth-generation fighter. While South Korea is shouldering 80 per cent of the development budget, Indonesia is to be the primary partner, with a 20 per cent stake. Indonesia first became associated with the programme through a memorandum of understanding in 2010.

KF-X (Korean Fighter, Experimental) began as a project to provide an aircraft to replace South Korea’s F-4 Phantoms and F-5 Tigers, and maybe ultimately F-16s. The nation has a requirement for about 250 KF-Xs. Indonesia’s version, the IF-X, could replace a number of types in the future, as well as allow air force expansion. The type would also be made available for export.

Korean officials expect the aircraft to first fly around 2020, and be in service from 2025.

Designed to be more capable than the F-16, but not in the same capability (or price) class as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the KF-X/IF-X marks a considerable investment in capability for both nations, and further cements the growing defence relationship between them. Having examined a number of configurations, a twin-engined, single-seat design known as C103 was selected earlier this year. Technical development is already complete.

Design features of the C103 include a total of 10 weapon hardpoints with a capacity of 16,000 lb. Under the fuselage are four recesses for semi-conformal carriage of AMRAAM-class air-to-air missiles.

The aircraft is of low observable design, with caret-shaped intakes (of 781sq in capture area) and chined forward fuselage.

Wing alignments are 40° for the leading edge, which is mirrored by the leading-edge root extensions and all-moving horizontal tails, and 10° on the trailing edge. Wing aspect ratio is 2.7 and there are fullspan moving surfaces on leading and trailing edges. Two turbofans will provide more than 36,000 lb of thrust.

Lockheed Martin is expected to assist with development as part of its commitments of a deal to supply 40 F-35 JSFs to Korea. Significant technology transfer in various key areas was included in the contract, which was signed in September.

This arrangement mirrors an earlier one in which Lockheed Martin agreed to help KAI develop the T-50 jet trainer as part of the Korean F-16 purchase. Indonesia has acquired 16 T-50s to act as lead-in fighter trainers.

The IF-X is being exhibited here in model form on the Indonesian Ministry of Defence stand (Hall D, Stand 023). The 1:10 scale model shows how the aircraft might appear in TNI-AU service, complete with stand-off attack missiles, ‘smart’ glide bombs, and targeting and reconnaissance pods.

A model of the Korean KF-X version can be viewed on KAI’s stand (Hall A, 043).

(454 words)