South Korea’s New Stealth Fighter Taking Shape at Saechon Factory
South Korea’s New Stealth Fighter Taking Shape at Saechon Factory. A new video from the South Korean Defense Ministry shows its indigenous KF-X fifth-generation fighter jet is beginning to take shape at the Saechon factory where it is being assembled, learned citing sputnik.
In the September 3 video, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) reveals that much of the stealth aircraft’s fuselage has been assembled, as well as the wings. In the video, several large, pre-assembled pieces of the fuselage are slowly inched together.
The agency said in a statement accompanying the video that despite interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Korea’s KF-X will still be debuted in the first half of 2021, as originally planned.
Ahn Hyun Ho, president of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), based in Saechon in South Gyeongsang Province, also said that all members of the company have labored to make the KF-X’s successful development “seamless and perfect.”
The influence of Lockheed Martin as a contributing partner in the project is apparent: the jet has a similar profile to the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II aircraft, which the company built and which were the first fifth-generation jets. Other competitors, such as China’s FC-31, built by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, and Turkey’s TF-X, being built by Turkish Aerospace Industries, have a similar shape.
According to KAI, which is heading the project, the KF-X will have better kinematic performance than the F-16C Falcon, which KAI built under license from Lockheed in the 1990s. The F-16C has a maximum speed of 1,370 miles per hour, or roughly twice the speed of sound, and can hoist a 17,000-pound payload more than 1,800 miles.
The Drive noted the jet’s engines, two upgraded versions of the GE Aviation F414 engine used by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and several other fighters, have yet to arrive, and that the airframe seems to have space for an internal weapons bay, which early versions of the KF-X are not anticipated to have. Internal weapons bays are necessary to maximize an aircraft’s stealthiness by maintaining the sleekness of its exterior, which minimizes radar return.