On Sunday, officials said South Korea was in the final stages of assembling a prototype of the country’s first self-designed fighter jet, which is expected to be unveiled in April.
South Korea has been working on the KF-X project since 2015 to develop its own fighter jet to replace the aging fleet of the Air Force LCD, consisting of F-4 and F-5 fighter jets.
Last September, Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI) began the final assembly of the jet prototype and, according to officials from the Defense Procurement Program Office (DAPA), is in its final stages.
They added that the prototype will be presented around the end of April, which is a few weeks ahead of schedule. The Procurement Agency expects the development to be completed after ground and flight tests by 2026.
According to officials, by 2028 it is planned to supply 40 units in the Air Force, and 80 more units by 2032. The fighter is designed to fly at a maximum speed of 1.81 Mach, and its range reaches 2,900 kilometers. According to KAI, it looks like a fifth-generation F-35A. With a maximum payload of 7,700 kg, the fighter can install 10 suspension nodes for missiles and fuel tanks. It will be capable of carrying several types of air-to-air missiles, including German IRIS-T and Meteor missiles with active radar guidance from European developer MBDA.
“KF-X is classified as a Generation 4.5 fighter. But this platform can be converted into a fifth-generation fighter at any time,” the DAPA representative said