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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

04 January 2016

KF-X Contract Signed - Doubts Linger

On 28 December, the Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) signed a contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to develop the nation's first indigenous fighter jet with technologies to be provided by Lockheed Martin.

Initially, DAPA planned to develop fighter jets by 2025 to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s. However, the targeted year for development was pushed back by one year due to the controversy over the technology transfer, officials explained. DAPA Spokesman, Col. Kim Si-cheol, said that according to the contract, KAI will manufacture six test planes and finish system development for the indigenous jets by June 2026. It also aims to produce 120 fighter jets by 2032. DAPA is

The project is expected to be completed by the first half of the year 2026 and the production process will be able to start from the second half of that year. Following the contract with DAPA, KAI is set to select an engine provider for fighter jets and work on their design and component production. One of the six test planes will be delivered to Indonesia, according to the deal, as the country bears 20% of system development cost.

The contract between DAPA and KAI came after the US government approved the transfer of 21 technologies used in Lockheed Martin's F-35 stealth fighter to Korea. Washington refused, in April 2015, to allow Lockheed Martin to hand over four core technologies, including the AESA radar, to Korea for security reasons.

Concerns still remain over whether Seoul will be able to fully receive specific sub-technologies needed for the project and can localise technologies that are disallowed by the US.

The project is expected to cost over W18 trillion (U$15.85 billion) with W8.5 trillion for system development and an extra W10 trillion for the production of 120 jets.