Friday, May 24, 2013

EADS Offers KF-X Assistance If South Korea Buys 60 Fighter Aircraft

The European Aerospace Defense and Space Company (EADS) has further sweetened its bid to win the competition to supply South Korea with 60 fighter aircraft to replace existing F-4 and F-5 aircraft.

EADS will now invest $2 billion in South Korea's KF-X fighter program on condition that it buys the Eurofighter Typhoon. Previously, EADS had already offered to produce 53 out of the 60 jets locally in South Korea.

Besides the Typhoon, the two other competitors are Lockheed Martin's F-35 and Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle. A decision by South Korea on which of the 3 candidates is the winner may come as soon as next month in June 2013.

The KF-X project was first announced by South Korea in 1999, but hasn't made much progress since. It is supposed to be a twin-engined aircraft, roughly similar in size to the Eurofighter.

The project is several years behind schedule and there are questions whether the project is feasible taking into account South Korea's resources and technical know-how.

It is intended to feature reduced radar cross section similar to that of the Typhoon. While not a tue fifth-generation fighter with very low observability, it will be superior to most existing fighters.

If build, the KF-X will replace the F-16 in South Korea's Air Force. It will be fully compatible with Western systems and weapons and with those of South Korean origin.

Indonesia joined the KF-X project as a junior-level partner in 2011 and will contribute some funding and may acquire up to 50 aircraft. Assuming the KF-X project goes through, it is projected to be operational well after 2020.

By that time, it will enter a world with several fifth-generation fighters, such as those from the US, Russia and China, which all strive to have their newest stealthy fighters ready before 2020.

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