South Korean KF-X takes one step closer to reality, says GlobalData

Following the announcement by South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) that Korean Aerospace Industries Co Ltd. (KAI) would start the final assembly of the Korean Fighter (KF-X) prototype;

Mathew George, Ph.D., Aerospace & Defense Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“KAI’s development of the first prototype will take one step closer to its ambitious program of KF-X operations and the steady pace of the activities involved will be used as justification for continuous government support for the program amid these current economic pressures.

“According to GlobalData’s report, South Korean Defense Market – Attractiveness, Competitive Landscape and Forecast to 2025, the multifunctional aircraft segment is expected to total US$7.3bn from 2020-2025 and it is the largest domain of defense spending. This also includes the country’s purchase of the F-35 platform. But, the need for a locally built Korean fighter is progressed via the KF-X program, not least to showcase the ability of Korean defense firms to produce advanced next generation fighters. Korean companies are making a name for themselves in defense exports, and that is buoyed by strong local demand and support for these companies to meet the expectations of the armed forces.

“KAI will, of course, build on the experience of the T-50 and FA-50 to develop these planes and fulfil its aim to produce a prototype in the first half of 2021.

“As Korea has shown before, the development of a local defense industry is an important aspect for the country to ensure access to advanced technology and secured supply chains. Companies have reciprocated by looking to learn from international partners on the development of technologies to assist in their growth. However, this year, such programs are gaining further importance as beacons of employment and retention of talent with a certain security to economic activity. There’s a lot more to this program that’s left, and KAI and South Korea will work to ensure that the KF-X  achieves its first flight by 2022.”

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