South Korea Receives First F414 Engine For KAI KF-X Fighter Jet

South Korea Receives First F414 Engine For KAI KF-X  Fighter Jet
South Korean air forces’ KF-X mock-up on display during the press day of Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition 2019 at the Seoul Military Airport in Seongnam, South Korea, October 14, 2019. AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

GE Aviation delivered the first F414-GE-400K engine in May to Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI) for South Korea’s next-generation indigenous fighter, known as the KF-X.

The engine manufacturer announced Friday that it delivered the first F414-GE-400K engine to Korea Aerospace Industries in May. KAI is developing the KF-X for the South Korean Air Force, which intends to replace its fleet of McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fighters with the new jet.

“GE is thrilled to reach this important milestone in the KF-X program,” said Al DiLibero, general manager of GE’s Medium Combat and Trainer Engines department. “Our success so far on this program reflects the strong relationship between the [Republic of Korea Air Force] ROKAF, our South Korean industry partners and GE Aviation, and the long and successful history of our engines powering ROKAF aircraft.”

South Korea’s Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI) selected GE Aviation in May 2016 to supply F414-GE-400K engines for the KF-X fighter.

The multi-role KF-X aircraft, a $7.4 billion project, is being designed and built by KAI. The KF-X aircraft will replace Korea’s F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II fleet.

The development program is scheduled to be completed in 2026, which includes the production of 15 F414 flight test engines and six prototype fighters by 2021.

Flight testing will occur in 2023. 120 KF-X aircraft are scheduled for production serving the South Korean armed forces. GE Aviation will provide 240 F414 production engines plus spares.

GE has partnered with South Korea many times to power aircraft in their inventory. GE’s F404 engines currently power South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle, a high-performance supersonic trainer developed with KAI for the ROKAF. GE’s T700 turboshaft engines power the Korean utility helicopter Surion. Additionally, GE’s F110 engines power the ROKAF’s F-15K aircraft.

South Korea plans to primarily equip the KF-X with indigenous avionics. These will come mostly from LIG Nex1 and Hanwha, although Israel’s Elbit Systems will supply terrain following/avoidance systems for the active electronically scanned array radar under development by Hanwha. The Israeli company announced the $43 million contract in early February.

The KF-X is also to be compatible with European air-to-air missiles. South Korea signed a contract with European missile-maker MBDA in November 2019 to integrate the Meteor, while Diehl-BGT is also reportedly set to sign a similar contract for its IRIS-T.

It was also reported that the American Paveway laser-guided bomb, the satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition and Textron’s CBU-105 Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser will be integrated on the KF-X, whose development is being co-funded by Indonesia.

The Southeast Asian nation signed onto the program in 2010, agreeing to pay for 20 percent of the development costs in exchange for one prototype aircraft, design participation, technical data and production sharing.

Since then, however, Indonesia has missed a number of payments amid a budget crunch, with newspaper The Korea Herald reporting in late May that as of April, Indonesia owes $415 million in overdue payments to the program.

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