Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has started production work on the first Korean Fighter eXperimental (KFX) aircraft prototype, the company said. Manufacturing work of the aircraft’s bulk head commenced on 14 February, with the prototype scheduled to be rolled out of KAI’s facilities in Sacheon, South Korea, in 2021.
KAI said the milestone was achieved through assistance provided by more than 100 local agencies including 84 companies, 16 tertiary institutions, and 11 research institutes. Another 35 companies will be involved when production increases in tempo. KAI added that it has hired 700 employees to work on the KFX and that in 2019 it is seeking to recruit an additional 400 people to work on the project.
The preliminary design of the KFX was finalised in June 2018, at which point the outer mould line (OML) of the aircraft was fixed. The critical design phase is scheduled to be complete in mid-2019. KAI added, “The development is running smoothly as scheduled.”
The KFX development programme envisages the production of six prototypes by 2021, followed by four years of trials and the completion of development by mid-2026. Serial production of the aircraft will take place during 2026–32, with an initial 120 units intended to replace the Republic of Korea Air Force’s (RoKAF’s) ageing fleets of F-4E Phantom and F-5E Tiger II aircraft.
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