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Korea Seeks Global Opportunities for KF-X

4.5-Generation Aircraft Attractive to a Host of Nations

Press reports and anecdotal evidence in circulation in Korea in late October indicate the nation is seriously looking to gain a portion of the global aerospace market for its KF-X advanced combat aircraft, the prototype for which is currently in final assembly.

With series production of the so-called 4.5-generation fighter currently scheduled to begin as early as 2026, officials believe the aircraft will emerge at a ‘sweet spot’ as far as timing is concerned, having determined that there will be a series of recapitalisation programmes that need to be addressed from 2030 onwards.

Although a small player compared with the developers of 5th-generation aircraft such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has made significant progress in the $16 billion (€13.5 billion) KF-X programme, managing the project with very little disruption or delay. Much of the advanced technology for KF-X – ranging from the millions of lines of code to the development of an AESA radar – has been managed at the national level, reducing reliance on external sources and making potential procurement of the aircraft more attractive to nations who may not necessarily be able to procure US or European aircraft, for instance.

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