Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) began an assembly of KF-X, the first South Korean indigenous fighter jet. The plane is said to bear similarity to Lockheed Martin F-35A and eventually replace the ageing fleet of Korean F-4s and F-5s.
“Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, the KF-X project has been under way as planned, and the prototype is expected to be available next year,” Korean Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) official Jung Kwang-sun is quoted as saying in the Korean media.
According to the DAPA announcement, the assembly began on September 2, 2020. The work on the fighter jet concept started in 2015, while the finalized design was unveiled in 2019.
The KF-X project is worth 8.8 trillion won ($7.3 billion) and is a joint development with Indonesia. GE Aviation is another partner, which will supply F414 engines used on F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and Saab JAS 39E/F Gripens.
The finalized aircraft is set to have maximum speed of Mach 1.81, range of 2,900 kilometers and maximum payload of 7,700 kilograms. It will carry Korean-designed radar system and a range of American- and European-made missiles.