As of now, 8 prototype aircraft are being assembled simultaneously and four of them are already in late or final stages.
The interesting photos in this post appeared on Republic of Korea Armed Forces Facebook Page and show Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) assembly line featuring KF-X.
As of now, 8 prototype aircraft are being assembled simultaneously and four of them are already in late or final stages. 6 will be used for flight testing while 2 will be used for ground testing. 2 prototypes will be two-seater variants.
The first prototype aircraft is about 92% assembled and will be unveiled in April. It is expected to conduct its first flight on July, 2022. 2nd 3rd prototypes will finish assembly by the end of the year and 4th ~ 6th by next year.
As of first prototype aircraft, localization rates of four “core technology” are as follows:
- AESA Radar: 89%
- IRST: 37%
- EO TGP: 82%
- EW Suite: 77%
- Lastly, KF-X will reportedly be painted same color as ROKAF’s F-15K (dark grey).
KF-X is a 4.5th gen fighter jet being developed by Korea Aerospace Industries in partnership with Lockheed Martin for the Republic of Korea Air Force. Featuring dimension of 16.9m x 4.7m x 11.2m, KF-X is larger than F-16 and is of similar size as F-18. Development of KF-X began in earnest on January 2016 and the assembly process began in 2019 after Critical Design Review (CDR) was completed in 2018. KF-X will operate alongside more advanced F-35A in ROKAF inventory.
According to KAI, the aircraft is designed to be able to fly at a maximum speed of Mach 1.81, with its flying range reaching 2,900 kilometers. It bears outward similarities to the fifth-generation F-35A already in service with ROKAF.
With a maximum payload of 7,700 kilograms, the fighter is capable of installing 10 pods for missiles and fuel barrels, Yonhap News reported. It will be able to carry several types of air-to-air missiles, such as Germany’s IRIS-T and European developer MBDA’s active radar guided Meteor missiles.
Photo credit: KAI/Republic of Korea Armed Forces