On 28 December last year, the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI)-led KF-X 4.5 generation fighter programme entered the preliminary design phase, having completed its technical development – during which the basic configuration was fixed. Indonesia’s government has taken a 20 per cent share in the development programme, with PT Dirgantara Indonesia leading the local participation in what Indonesia is calling IF-X.
On 26 May this year, the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), which is the principal contracting agency, announced the selection of General Electric as preferred bidder to supply the aircraft’s powerplant in the form of two 98kN (22,000 lb) F414-GE-400 engines.
The preliminary design phase is due to end in the second quarter of 2018, leading to a first flight expected in 2021/22. Deliveries are due to begin around 2025.
South Korea has outlined a requirement for more than 100 KF-X aircraft, while Indonesia is expected to acquire more than 50. The IF-X will differ in some respects from KF-X, chiefly in its systems. KAI is developing the avionics architecture for the Korean aircraft, while Infoglobal has been selected to supply some elements for IF-X.
Both nations are keen to maximise local content, but there are several opportunities for outside suppliers to participate in the programme for components and systems that lie outside Korean/Indonesian capabilities. Radar and electronic warfare are two key areas attracting proposals from overseas. Here at Indo Defence, Leonardo is displaying a model of the ES-05 Raven radar that it developed for the Saab Gripen NG, complete with associated infrared search and track and IFF systems, and is promoting it, or a derivative, as a contender for KF-X/IF-X.
Saab launched a new AESA fighter radar at the ADEX show in Seoul last October, and is also pitching it, with EW systems, for the KF-X programme. It is the world’s first fighter radar to feature gallium nitride semiconductor technology.