Mar 4, 2014

Design of long-delayed KF-X still in debate

After a decade-long delay, Korea’s indigenous fighter program is about to officially hit the road with bidding by partner firms scheduled for next month.
However, which design concept to go with — a single- or twin-engine aircraft — is emerging as the biggest sticking point in the program, codenamed KF-X.
The state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and the Air Force, claims the nation’s future fighter should be a two-engine, clean-sheet aircraft, proposing a design labeled C103.
On the other hand the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) promotes a single-engine version of an aircraft, named C501, to be derived from the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 light attack fighter, saying the plane is cheaper and easier to develop and build than the ADD preference.
The C103 is a Eurofighter-like 4.5th-generation plane that can easily be upgraded to a fifth-generation fighter, while the C501 is a fourth-generation one, according local aviation analysts.
The ADD has reserved space for a conformable weapons bay in its C103 design, which would give it the makings of a low-observable fighter.
The analysts said that if Korea opts for the twin-engine aircraft in the KF-X, the combat plane will eventually be able to replace the Air Force’s F-16s and F-15s in the future, otherwise, the KF-X will only end up as replacement for F-4s and F-5s.
According to KAI, the C501 will be built based on the FA-50, although it will be larger.

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