Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced on 3 September starting of assembly of the first prototype of South Korea's first indigenous advanced multi-role fighter jet KF-X- a project that is US$7.3 billion worth.
South Korea has been working on this project for five years now; a project that aims at replacing the fleet of F-4 and F-5 jets of the South Korean Air Force.
The KF-X is can 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, said Korean Aerospace Industries. The Fighter has a payload of 7700 kg, which enables makes enables it to install 10 pods for missiles and fuel barrels.
KAI also noted that the new fighter will be able to carry several types of air-to-air missiles, such as IRIS-T (Germany) and the active radar guided Meteor missiles (MBDA- Europe).
According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), expectations are that by mid 2021 this prototype would be ready, and that by 2026 the development and testing would be completed.
"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," DAPA official Jung Kwang-sun said.