KAI’s first prototype KF-X fighter to be rolled out by April 2021

The image shows a partially assembled fuselage of the KF-X fighter prototype.
The image shows a partially assembled fuselage of the KF-X fighter prototype. Credit: Korea Aerospace Industries

Korea Aerospace Industries, South Korean aerospace, and defense company started production of the front, the middle and rear hull of KF-X domestic fighter jet. It has published an image of a partially assembled fuselage of the KF-X fighter prototype, which was assembled at the KAI’s aircraft factory in Sacheon. The company plans to roll out the first prototype next April and commence test flights in 2022.

KF-X fighter will be 16.9 meters long, 4.7 meters high, and have a wingspan of 11.2 meters. The maximum take-off mass of the fighter is 25,400 kg (55,997 lb). It will be able to fly at the speed of Mach 1.81 (2,235 km/h). The promising fighter will receive ten suspension points for missiles, bombs, and various sensors.

KF-X-fighter
KF-X-fighter

The performance of the KF-X fighter aircraft is expected to improve with each block. The first stage of the program includes the construction of six Block 0 prototypes, followed by four years of flight tests. The first version of the aircraft in the experimental phase is expected to be completed by mid-2026.

Then the first KF-X in the mass production line, which will be an extension of the KF-X Block 1 fighter model, should reach the skies between 2026 and 2028. Unlike the prototypes, these machines will be equipped with limited air-to-ground weapons to additional air-to-air weapons. Later on, the Block 2 models, whose production is expected to start from 2029, will have the capability to perform a full air-to-air and air-to-ground combat mission.

South Korea expects to deploy 120 of the aircraft into service by 2032. The project is intended to replace South Korea’s aging F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II aircraft.