Korea KF-X/ IF-X (KF-21) program

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Windchime

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Interesting! Do you have any posts that you have made in the past regarding what you just mentioned? I would like to read more on it.

Unfortunately I haven't in this forum, and a lot of the stuff on internet are lost these days (LM made this offer around a decade ago, in 2013). One of the most comprehensive summary about the situation at the time was from Naeil Shinmun, a Korean newspaper, though all of their articles are paywalled these days.

This is one of the presentation slides from the time, in 2014.
20131214175953.jpg

As you can see, up until 2013, there were different options being considered for KF-X development. One of which is the F-16 based model from LM. These options were also connected to the F-X program, in which Boeing, LM and EADS competed with Super Hornet, F-35 and F-15SE/Advanced Eagle respectively. The winner was required to participate in KF-X program as an offset, either as technology assistance provider or as a developmental partner which would provide a base model for a KF-X derivative fighter.

LM's proposal was projected to cost around $5.4 billion, as I've said. I've unfortunately forgotten what the EADS and Boeing proposals were projected to cost, but considering the fact that EADS and Boing at the time have made extravagant offers that they can't realistically fulfill, all due to their severly disadvataged position in the competition against LM's F-35, it was hard to believe their claims in face-value anyways.

Also, LM's proposal and its projected cost was also in-line with past examples, considering that it costed Japan around $3.3 billion to develop F-2 in corporation with GD/LM. Considering the inflation, $5.4 billion for a new F-16 derivative fighter seems fairly reasonable.
 

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Unfortunately I haven't in this forum, and a lot of the stuff on internet are lost these days (LM made this offer around a decade ago, in 2013). One of the most comprehensive summary about the situation at the time was from Naeil Shinmun, a Korean newspaper, though all of their articles are paywalled these days.

This is one of the presentation slides from the time, in 2014.
View attachment 62187
As you can see, up until 2013, there were different options being considered for KF-X development. One of which is the F-16 based model from LM. These options were also connected to the F-X program, in which Boeing, LM and EADS competed with Super Hornet, F-35 and F-15SE/Advanced Eagle respectively. The winner was required to participate in KF-X program as an offset, either as technology assistance provider or as a developmental partner which would provide a base model for a KF-X derivative fighter.

LM's proposal was projected to cost around $5.4 billion, as I've said. I've unfortunately forgotten what the EADS and Boeing proposals were projected to cost, but considering the fact that EADS and Boing at the time have made extravagant offers that they can't realistically fulfill, all due to their severly disadvataged position in the competition against LM's F-35, it was hard to believe their claims in face-value anyways.

Also, LM's proposal and its projected cost was also in-line with past examples, considering that it costed Japan around $3.3 billion to develop F-2 in corporation with GD/LM. Considering the inflation, $5.4 billion for a new F-16 derivative fighter seems fairly reasonable.
Interesting, thanks for sharing! I thought in the beginning that you were referring to a possible deal where South Korea would purchase a "license" to produce for example an F16, or F-15 with major South Korean sensors, avionics, and weapon packages.

So from what I understood from your post, the winner of the F-X program/tender would transfer the necessary technology to South Korea during the development phase of the KF-21, right?
 

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Interesting, thanks for sharing! I thought in the beginning that you were referring to a possible deal where South Korea would purchase a "license" to produce for example an F16, or F-15 with major South Korean sensors, avionics, and weapon packages.

So from what I understood from your post, the winner of the F-X program/tender would transfer the necessary technology to South Korea during the development phase of the KF-21, right?

I think there are some misunderstandings, so I'll give you more details so that it's easier to understand the whole situation.


To clarify, Korean MoD wanted to directly link the two separate fighter procurement programs (the third F-X program and KF-X program) through offset requirements, requiring the winner of the F-X bid to take part in the KF-X program and contribute financially and technically.

The 3rd F-X program (following the first two F-X programs, which led to the procurement of 61 F-15K fighters) was officially initiated in March 2011. Then plan was to send RFPs by January 2012, receive proposals until 2014, evaluate them, and select the preferred bidder by October of the same year. This rather tight schedule was very much intentional, since the KF-X preliminary studies were to be concluded by December 2012, 2 months after the preferred bidder for the F-X was chosen.

Fast-forward, for various reasons, the F-X bidding process didn't proceed as planned and was faced with program revisions and delays.

First, by the end of 2012, the selection of the preferred bidder had been postponed due to the change of administration, and the fighter was now supposed to be chosen under the next presidential administration. Then, the bidding process was reset after it was deemed that the evaluation was inadequate. This happened in September 2013. The preferred bidder was ultimately chosen in March 2014, which was LM and their F-35.

An important thing to remember here is that the details regarding the offset participation in the KF-X program weren't clearly outlined by the Korean MoD, apart from that they are required to participate as a technical assistance company, so it was up to each F-X bidders to submit different proposals regarding how they will participate in KF-X.

While all this was happening on the F-X side, on the KF-X side there was a separate round of discussions taking place after the conclusion of preliminary studies. Now it was time for the program to proceed into the system development phase, but it was still undecided what the base-design model would be. Different models and acquisition plans were evaluated, and they were eventually shortlisted into 3 options.

The first option was to continue with the indigenous model researched during the preliminary studies. These models were C103 and C203, a conventional wing-tail design and a cannard-delta model respectively. C103 was to be chosen should Boeing or LM win the F-X bid and C203 if EADS or SAAB wins it.

The second option was a FA-50 based design, which in the later years was renamed the C501. (KAI called it KFX-E) It was based on the earlier C102E design and was going to have some design commonalities with FA-50, making it a far cheaper option for less performance and, more importantly, less independence from American control.

The third option was a derivative fighter based on the F-X bidder's existing fighters.

Due to the existence of this third option, F-X bidders were submitting two separate offset proposals. One, should the KF-X proceed with an indigenous model, and another, should Korea choose to develop a derivative fighter based on a foreign design
. For the derivative fighter option, Boeing offered an Advanced Super Hornet-based proposal, LM a F-16-based proposal, and EADS a Eurofighter-based proposal.

Here, the "$5.4 billion development cost for a derivative fighter", mentioned in my earlier replies, was the projected cost for the LM proposal based on the F-16.

As I've said before, (and as you've correctly understood) the derivative fighter was to be indigenized with Korean components, including parts of critical avionics and flight control systems. Technical documents and details, as well as parts of the IP rights were also to be transferred, but details varied depending on the bidder. EADS promised most extensive offers due to poor state of the Eurofighter program, but it was later found that their contractual offer didn't reflect what they were saying publicly.

Though, all this became meaningless since the derivative fighter option was ditched all together. If you take a look at the table I've posted above, you'll notice that the decision to ditch the derivative fighter option was made by August 2013, a month before the resetting of F-X bidding process.

Now, F-X bidders were solely required to submit their proposals for KF-X participation in the development of the indigenous Korean model. All bidders pledged financial participation as well as cooperation in international marketing and ToT, but the details varied.

As a result, LM is an official TAC of the KF-X porgram, providing technical assistance as well as having transferred dozens of technologies for use in the KF-X program, although the transfer of certain critical technologies was denied by the US government. Also, LM later backtracked on their promise to financially participate in the program and, as compensation, struck a deal to supply the Korean armed forces with a military communication satellite, now called the ANASIS-II and launch it into orbit.
 

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I think there are some misunderstandings, so I'll give you more details so that it's easier to understand the whole situation.


To clarify, Korean MoD wanted to directly link the two separate fighter procurement programs (the third F-X program and KF-X program) through offset requirements, requiring the winner of the F-X bid to take part in the KF-X program and contribute financially and technically.

The 3rd F-X program (following the first two F-X programs, which led to the procurement of 61 F-15K fighters) was officially initiated in March 2011. Then plan was to send RFPs by January 2012, receive proposals until 2014, evaluate them, and select the preferred bidder by October of the same year. This rather tight schedule was very much intentional, since the KF-X preliminary studies were to be concluded by December 2012, 2 months after the preferred bidder for the F-X was chosen.

Fast-forward, for various reasons, the F-X bidding process didn't proceed as planned and was faced with program revisions and delays.

First, by the end of 2012, the selection of the preferred bidder had been postponed due to the change of administration, and the fighter was now supposed to be chosen under the next presidential administration. Then, the bidding process was reset after it was deemed that the evaluation was inadequate. This happened in September 2013. The preferred bidder was ultimately chosen in March 2014, which was LM and their F-35.

An important thing to remember here is that the details regarding the offset participation in the KF-X program weren't clearly outlined by the Korean MoD, apart from that they are required to participate as a technical assistance company, so it was up to each F-X bidders to submit different proposals regarding how they will participate in KF-X.

While all this was happening on the F-X side, on the KF-X side there was a separate round of discussions taking place after the conclusion of preliminary studies. Now it was time for the program to proceed into the system development phase, but it was still undecided what the base-design model would be. Different models and acquisition plans were evaluated, and they were eventually shortlisted into 3 options.

The first option was to continue with the indigenous model researched during the preliminary studies. These models were C103 and C203, a conventional wing-tail design and a cannard-delta model respectively. C103 was to be chosen should Boeing or LM win the F-X bid and C203 if EADS or SAAB wins it.

The second option was a FA-50 based design, which in the later years was renamed the C501. (KAI called it KFX-E) It was based on the earlier C102E design and was going to have some design commonalities with FA-50, making it a far cheaper option for less performance and, more importantly, less independence from American control.

The third option was a derivative fighter based on the F-X bidder's existing fighters.

Due to the existence of this third option, F-X bidders were submitting two separate offset proposals. One, should the KF-X proceed with an indigenous model, and another, should Korea choose to develop a derivative fighter based on a foreign design
. For the derivative fighter option, Boeing offered an Advanced Super Hornet-based proposal, LM a F-16-based proposal, and EADS a Eurofighter-based proposal.

Here, the "$5.4 billion development cost for a derivative fighter", mentioned in my earlier replies, was the projected cost for the LM proposal based on the F-16.

As I've said before, (and as you've correctly understood) the derivative fighter was to be indigenized with Korean components, including parts of critical avionics and flight control systems. Technical documents and details, as well as parts of the IP rights were also to be transferred, but details varied depending on the bidder. EADS promised most extensive offers due to poor state of the Eurofighter program, but it was later found that their contractual offer didn't reflect what they were saying publicly.

Though, all this became meaningless since the derivative fighter option was ditched all together. If you take a look at the table I've posted above, you'll notice that the decision to ditch the derivative fighter option was made by August 2013, a month before the resetting of F-X bidding process.

Now, F-X bidders were solely required to submit their proposals for KF-X participation in the development of the indigenous Korean model. All bidders pledged financial participation as well as cooperation in international marketing and ToT, but the details varied.

As a result, LM is an official TAC of the KF-X porgram, providing technical assistance as well as having transferred dozens of technologies for use in the KF-X program, although the transfer of certain critical technologies was denied by the US government. Also, LM later backtracked on their promise to financially participate in the program and, as compensation, struck a deal to supply the Korean armed forces with a military communication satellite, now called the ANASIS-II and launch it into orbit.

Thank you for your well, and detailed explanation!

Even if South Korea had to suffer from false promises, it rewarded its growth in the end by forcing South Korea to develop its own critical technologies.

I have also seen the transport aircraft MC-X, and KUH-1 helicopter. Do you have a little information on these platforms? I read that MC-X is a project that will according to plans enter service by 2030-2032 timeframe. KUH-1 on the other hand has already been delivered in good numbers, but no exports have taken place?
 

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Thank you for your well, and detailed explanation!

Even if South Korea had to suffer from false promises, it rewarded its growth in the end by forcing South Korea to develop its own critical technologies.

I have also seen the transport aircraft MC-X, and KUH-1 helicopter. Do you have a little information on these platforms? I read that MC-X is a project that will according to plans enter service by 2030-2032 timeframe. KUH-1 on the other hand has already been delivered in good numbers, but no exports have taken place?
IMO getting false promises are not that important. What really matters is what these companies offer in a written contract, and that's why its important to have competent bureaucrats which wouldn't get the government and taxpayers in trouble caused by some shady contractual schemes. We don't "suffer" from anything, so as long as they abide to the contract, and if anything, both Boeing and LM have not had any major troubles executing on their contractual obligations.

For KUH-1, there's a dedicated thread on this forum for all Korean helo programs.
English Wikipedia article could alse be a good starting point.
There are quite a lot of information missing, especially concerning the history of the KUH program, but maybe I'll get to it once I've got time later.
 

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In an interview with KF-21 test pilot Jin Tae-beom at this ADEX 2023, you can see how far the development has progressed so far and what tests are scheduled in the future.

1. Due to ongoing development, the maneuvers from the demo flight are only halfway to the target performance. At the next ADEX 2025, we will demonstrate maneuvers that are as close to the target performance as possible. (Even though it has only been a year and three months, I could feel that it was purely "surprising" to show such a stable maneuver.)

2. It has been one year and three months since the first flight in July 2022. Over 330 test flights have been conducted so far. These were mainly in the areas of airspeed and safety, flutter tests and stability & control flight tests.
21462a966de1f2dab6e24223d02f65a2.jpg

3. The KF-21 still has a long way to go as it needs to undergo more than 2,200 flight tests. The high angle of attack test is next on the agenda, which is preceded by an engine restart test in the air. (Testing will be handled by Prototype Unit 2.)

4. An aerial refueling test is scheduled for next year, 2024.

5. The performance of the AESA radar has been verified through some testing. Further tests are planned, and an air-to-air missile launch using it is expected in mid-2025.
 

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Not sure if Hanwha has ever developed a 150 gallon drop tank for KF-21. I have heard it is either 370 gal or 450 gal.
the drop tank for KF-21 has not been released, so I chose the one that looks similar by eye measurement from the external fuel tank of the ROKAF. Now that you mention it, I think you're right.
 

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So far, the tests are going well. I look forward to the day when all F-5E/Fs can be removed from ROKAF inventory.

KF-21 conducts high angle of attack tests​

The Korea Aerospace Industries KF-21 Boramae fighter is undergoing high angle of attack tests.

The tests commenced in January using the second of six KF-21 prototypes, according to a video posted by South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration.
optimize.jpg

The tests commenced in January over the ocean near KAI’s Sacheon production facility. To guard against a possible loss of control, the aircraft was fitted with a spin recovery chute between its twin tails.

The DAPA video shows the aircraft rotating to an angle of attack of around 70° before the pilot pushes the nose down, completing the manoeuvre.

During the AoA manoeuvre, performed at 38,000ft, the jet’s calibrated airspeed fell to just 20kt (37km/h). Additional AoA tests will be conducted.

Following the flight of the first KF-21 prototype in July 2022, five additional prototypes have joined the testing campaign, bringing the testing fleet to four single-seaters and two two-seaters.

Last year saw several testing milestones completed, including breaking the sound barrier as well as work around sensor and weapons integration. The aircraft’s flight envelope has also been explored during hundreds of tests.

Overall, the test campaign will run to 2,000 flights, with development expected to be completed by 2026.

The KF-21 is powered by two GE Aerospace F414 engines, and will replace McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms and Northrop F-5s still in service with the Republic of Korea Air Force. The KF-21 is pitched as an “affordable mid-class fighter” with 10 hardpoints for weapons.

Indonesia is a junior partner in the programme, but reports suggest that it is consistently late with payments.

Mass production of the KF-21 is set to commence this year, with deliveries to the ROKAF to begin in the second half of 2026.
https://www.flightglobal.com/defence/kf-21-conducts-high-angle-of-attack-tests/156715.article
 

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I am not sure when KF-21 would achieve IOC & FOC. In fact, I don't think I have ever heard ROKAF talking about IOC & FOC of KF-21. Block I is only capable of conducting A-2-A missions with a limited capacity to engage in A-2-G missions. Would this be enough for ROKAF to declare IOC of KF-21?
 
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