KF-X illustration (image: KAI)
In its 2021 budget, the South Korean Ministry of Defense plans to spend $5.4 billion for the development of indigenous KF-X jet.
Seoul has set the target for development of the jet for 2026. It aims to produce 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.
In June, manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced it was assembling top, middle and bottom parts of the fuselage of the jet. Final assembly of the jet could be completed by the end of 2020.
The Asian nation also wants to build new K2 battle tanks. A new locally-made powerful 1500 HP engine for these tanks will be launched soon.
Out of the total 53 trillion won ($44.7 billion) budget, $14.5 billion is earmarked for arms purchases and projects for better defense capabilities, up 2.4% from this year.
The MoD wants to spend around $30 billion or about 63% of the total, on training ($17.4 billion) and maintenance ($12.8 billion).
Personnel training covers familiarizing service members with next-generation warfare tactics based on augmented and virtual reality settings, and carrying out operations in advanced combat uniforms. Service members will learn to use protective gear in case of health crisis like COVID-19 pandemic and also to handle biological and chemical outbreaks.
Military bases in the meanwhile would adopt the latest technologies for operations, in line with the newer rules of engagement, The Korea Herald reported today.
Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will be incorporated at posts bordering North Korea to keep a better eye out for suspicious activity. Another $5.1 billion is assigned for coming up with necessary firepower and better reconnaissance to counter nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
The ministry also fixed $1.8 billion to prepare to take over wartime operational control from the US by 2022. Seoul currently hosts 28,500-strong United States Forces Korea (USFK).