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  • AirAsia X to launch Kuala Lumpur-Tokyo Narita service

    Date: 08/22/2019 04:16 PM

    AirAsia X to launch Kuala Lumpur-Tokyo Narita service [email protected] Thu, 08/22/2019 - 14:16

    Malaysian LCC AirAsia X will introduce new direct service from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo Narita starting Nov. 20.

    AirAsia X Malaysia CEO Benyamin Ismail announced the route via social media, writing the new route will allow passengers the ability to access Tokyo “either through Narita Airport or Haneda Airport, giving them more flexibility on flight times and connectivity ... these new services are in response to overwhelming consumer demand and ahead of what will be a big year for Tokyo tourism in 2020.”

    The 4X-weekly Tokyo Narita flight will complement AirAsia X’s existing daily flight to Tokyo Haneda and will add 156,000 seats to the route annually. The Haneda flights depart the Malaysian capital in the afternoon while the Narita flight departs at midnight.

    “Operating from two airports in Tokyo with different flight times will also entice more fly-thru guests connecting from other cities within our global network, whilst at the same time, providing Malaysians more flight options to travel to Japan’s capital and largest city,” Benyamin added.

    The airline did not specify if the route will use the new Airbus A330-900. Its Thai affiliate AirAsia X Thailand operates 3X-daily flights to Narita, with one of the daily flights using an A330-900, of which AirAsia has 66 on order.

    “AirAsia recently took delivery of the airline’s first Airbus A330neo aircraft, which flew its maiden flight from Bangkok’s Don Mueang [International Airport] to Narita on Aug. 15,” AirAsia X told ATW. “Future deliveries of additional A330neo aircraft to be based in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur will be announced in due course.”

    Chen Chuanren, [email protected]

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  • Selected U.S. Military Contracts for the Week of March 6 - March 10, 2017

    Date: 03/15/2017 02:41 AM

    Selected U.S. Military Contracts for the Week of March 6 - March 10, 2017 [email protected] Wed, 03/15/2017 - 01:41

    Selected U.S. military contracts for March 6, 2017

    U.S. ARMY

    Blue Storm Associates Inc., doing business as Pemdas Technologies and Innovation, Alexandria, Virginia, was awarded a $49,500,000 order dependent contract for the Atmospheric Sensing and Prediction System. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, is the contracting activity (W911NF-17-D-0001).

    Selected U.S. military contracts for March 7, 2017


    Kelly Aviation Center LP, San Antonio, has been awarded a $1,001,978,024 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for KC-10 engine contractor logistic support. Contractor will provide engine teardown and overhaul, on-wing support/contract field teams, and engine parts and logistics. In addition, the contractor will provide all support required to fulfill this requirement, including but not limited to labor, materials, tools, equipment, parts, and transportation. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, is the contracting activity (FA8105-17-D-0002).

    U.S. NAVY

    Avian LLC, Lexington Park, Maryland, is being awarded an $11,402,443 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide support for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’s Integrated System Evaluation Experimentation and Test Department (AIR-5.1). Services provided will include flight test engineering, programmatic, administrative, design, execution, analysis, evaluation, and reporting of tests and experiments of aircraft, unmanned air systems, weapons and weapons systems. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity (N00421-17-C-0049).

    Selected U.S. military contracts for March 8, 2017

    U.S. NAVY

    Sierra Nevada Corp., Rancho, California, is being awarded a $30,995,905 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00174-09-D-0003) to extend the ordering period and exercise Option Year 6 for the procurement and support of the transmitting set, countermeasures AN/PLT-5, to support explosive ordnance disposal personnel.  The AN/PLT-5 is a man-portable system in support of the Joint Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal Counter Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare program. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, Indian Head, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

    Vector Planning and Services Inc., San Diego, is being awarded a potential $17,910,070 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide cyberspace science, research, engineering, and technology integration. Support includes innovative technology assessment and development; rapid software development and prototyping; enabling capability training; security engineering; and cybersecurity risk management.  This is one of four multiple-award contracts. All awardees will have the opportunity to compete for task orders during the ordering period.  The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, San Diego, is the contracting activity (N66001-17-D-0117).

    Selected U.S. military contracts for March 9, 2017


    Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, California, was awarded a $53,052,807 competitive cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for a 36-month period with no options for the Multi-Object Kill Vehicle Technology Risk Reduction (TRR) effort. This contract represents part of the Missile Defense Agency’s technology risk reduction strategy to improve performance and reduce risk for a gimbaled seeker assembly, integrated avionics assembly, component integration and testing, and an advanced seeker. The Missile Defense Agency, Huntsville, Alabama, is the contracting activity (HQ0147-17-C-0002).

    U.S. NAVY

    ViON Corp., Herndon, California, is being awarded a $34,790,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to provide Capacity as a Service support to Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (Spawar) Headquarters, Spawar System Center Pacific and Spawar System Center Atlantic. The Capacity as a Service acquisition model allows Spawar to more accurately scale, up and down, its information technology (IT) infrastructure to meet evolving mission requirements. Savings are realized through no up-front costs and a “pay as you go” acquisition model, reducing waste usually associated with overbuying of IT equipment to eventually meet an expectation of mission requirement. Under this contract, ViON is responsible for providing on-demand, on-premise computing, networking and storage solutions for a variety of systems and applications for the command’s research, development, testing and evaluation core infrastructures, laboratory and data center environments. This contract includes options, which if exercised, would bring the maximum contract value to $49,990,000. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, is the contracting activity (N00039-17-D-0003).

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  • Product Realization Pop Quiz

    Date: 04/18/2016 07:42 PM

    Product Realization Pop Quiz [email protected] Mon, 04/18/2016 - 17:42

    How well do you understand Product Realization?
    Aerospace and Defense companies such as yours are looking for ways to gain insight into program decisions that impact cost, timing and quality. To effectively compete and achieve program execution excellence, you need to make manufacturing a core part of the development process.

    Put your Product Realization knowledge to test with this pop quiz. Complete the short quiz and be entered to win one of two $50 Amazon gifts cards!

    To help you with the answers, please download the white paper Product realization facilitates a collaborative approach.


  • KAI KF-X

    Date: 06/24/2020 11:12 PM

    KAI KF-X [email protected] Wed, 06/24/2020 - 21:12

    The Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-X is a multi-role 4.5 generation fighter. The KF-X is powered by two General Electric (GE) F414-400K turbofan engines. Image shows final C-109 design with caret inlets, boundary layer diverter and canted twin tails. Munitions stored conformally in the Block I configuration with provisions for an internal weapons bay in the subsequent Block II configuration. Credit: KAI


    Program History

    Prelude & Early Ambitions

    In the early 1990s, South Korea sought to develop a robust domestic aerospace industry. Under the Peace Bridge II program, Lockheed Martin agreed to open a production line for F-16s in Korea. Hundreds of South Korean engineers were trained in the United States in preparation for domestic F-16 production and Lockheed Martin committed to a series of offset agreements including the development of a new Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) designated as the KTX-2 which would become the T-50. In response to the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, the Korean government directed the creation of KAI in October 1999 from the three largest aerospace chaebols (Korean conglomerates): Daewoo Heavy Machinery, Hyundai and Samsung Techwin (formerely Samsung Aerospace).    

    As KAI gained experienced with the KTX-2 program, the Kim Dae-jung Administration began to study proposals to develop an indigenous fighter. In August 2001, Defense Minister Kim Dong-shin announced the government would begin development of an indigenous fighter in 2003 which would enter service in 2015.  In 2002, the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) wrote the initial Required Operational Characteristics (ROC) for a medium weight fighter which would be slightly superior to the F-16. The original requirements did not call for low observability (LO) or internal carriage of weapons.  During the 197th meeting of the Korean Joint Chiefs in November 2002, initial KF-X ROCs were approved. A medium performance indigenous fighter would be developed to complement the higher-end F-15K which had been selected as the F-X in April 2002.   The F-X program began in November 1997 and originally sought to procure 120 fighters by 2020 but was ultimately divided into three distinct phases for 40 (2002), 21 (including one attrition replacement, 2008) and 60 (revised down to 40, 2014) aircraft respectively.  

    Development work for the medium performance indigenous fighter would be led by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) which coordinates nationwide defense R&D activities and reports directly to the Ministry of National Defense (formerly the Defense Acquisition Procurement Agency or DAPA until 2014).  By 2007, South Korea was looking at developing a 5th generation, LO fighter.  The world’s first 5th generation fighter, the F-22, had reached initial operational capability (IOC) just two years prior following more than 20 years of development.   Ambitious plans to expand domestic industry and discord amongst Korea’s defense policy community greatly contributed towards the program’s initial delays. Furthermore, differences in defense policy between subsequent administrations greatly affected the progress and funding of the KF-X program.

    Feasibility Studies & Evolution of Requirements 

    Between 2002 and 2014, the government commissioned multiple feasibility studies on KF-X from the Korea Institute of Defense Analysis (KIDA), Korea Development Institute (KDI), Konkuk University and the Korean Institute of Science and Technology Evaluation Assessment (KISTEP). In 2012, the ADD also hired IHS Janes and Strategic Defense Intelligence to examine the KF-X’s exportability.  

    In December 2007, the Korea Development Institute (KDI), an economic policy think tank staffed largely by government employees, found that the program would cost ₩10 trillion ($10.6 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) and result in only ₩3 trillion ($3.2 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) in economic benefits.    KDI’s ROCs assumed KF-X would be LO with internal carriage for four air-to-air missiles (AAMs) and performance characteristics in between the F-16 and F-15.  In October of that year, four companies had submitted bids for KF-X (now nicknamed Boramae): Saab, Airbus (then EADS), Boeing and Lockheed Martin.  Saab submitted two derivatives of its JAS 39 C/D fighter. The P305 was a single engine derivative while the P306 had twin engines, both stored weapons internally.  EADS offered the Eurofighter Typhoon as the basis for a cooperative development program. Boeing and Lockheed Martin were operating under stringent U.S. export controls and kept a lower profile during the early stages of KF-X.  

    2009 marked a series of important milestones for the KF-X in terms of international participation and solidification of requirements. On March 9, 2009, South Korea and Indonesia and signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the joint development of KF-X. Indonesia committed to fund 20% of the KF-X development and purchase 50 IF-X (Indonesian derivative KF-X) aircraft.  South Korea attempted to solicit Turkish participation in the program but Korea and Turkey were reportedly unable to reach an agreement regarding leadership of a co-development program.  KF-X program requirements

    In 2009, the government commissioned Konkuk University’s Weapons System Concept Development and Application Research Center to study the feasibility of the KF-X program.  The study was led by Major General (ret.) Shin Bo Hyun who had previously led the original F-X evaluation team in 2002.  Major Gen. Hyun’s report found development and production of the KF-X was feasible if the KF-X was effectively downgraded to a 4.5 generation platform. The study concluded 5th generation capabilities were not necessary in a North Korea scenario. Stand-off weapons would allow non-LO aircraft to conduct strikes.  The study proposed the following ROCs :

    • Combat Radius: 1.5 times that of the F-16C/D Block 52 (approximately 500 miles or 800 km)
    • Service Life: 1.34 times that of the F-16C/D (approximately 10,700 hours)
    • Empty weight of 10.4 metric tons (22,928 lb.)
    • Reduced radar cross section (RCS), but not true LO
    • One to two engines

     A 4.5 generation fighter would cost ₩6 trillion ($6.1 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) to develop and approximately ₩50 billion to build ($51 million in adjusted 2020 dollars).  A production run of 250 aircraft would be required to reach sufficient economies of scale. A total of 120 KF-Xs could be built to replace the legacy Boeing F-4 Phantom and Northrop F-5 fleets. An additional 130 could be built to eventually replace the ROKAF’s F-16 fleet.  The study concluded that South Korean industry possessed 63% of the required technologies for the program.  Konkuk University’s conclusions were well received and the program ultimately abandoned hopes to produce a fifth generation fighter – at least in the short term (Block II and notional Block III).

    Ties to F-X

    The DAPA under the Myung-bak Lee Administration (Feb. 2008 to Feb. 2013) lowered F-X Phase III ROCs in an effort to make the bid more competitive and emphasize technology transfer for F-X at the cost of platform capability (particularly in terms of LO).   The new ROCs enabled Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle (F-15SE) and Airbus Eurofighter Typhoon to participate alongside Lockheed Martin’s F-35.   EADS (Airbus) offered to invest $2 billion in the KF-X program as part of its Eurofighter Typhoon bid.  In August 2013, the DAPA selected the F-15SE as the only qualified bidder of the F-X Phase III as Lockheed’s bid exceeded the specified price restrictions and the Eurofighter Typhoon was disqualified for a bidding irregularity.  Later that month, a group of 15 former ROKAF Generals signed a petition against the F-15SE’s selection.  The Defense Project Promotion Committee chaired by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin overturned the initial DAPA decision in accordance with new ROCs from the Joint Chiefs favoring LO performance.   On March 24, 2014, Seoul announced its intent to purchase 40 F-35As – a reduction from 60 for budgetary purposes. On Sep.24, it announced it had completed negotiations with the U.S. government regarding price, offsets and technical details. As part of the ₩7.34 trillion ($6.5 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) deal, Korea requested the transfer of 25 technologies to support the KF-X program.

    KAI Down Select

    In December 2014, the DAPA issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the KF-X program. Two teams participated throughout the competition: KAI-Lockheed Martin and Korean Air Lines (KAL)-Airbus-Boeing.   The RFP requires a clean sheet design, but the KAL team reportedly wanted to use a modified F/A-18E/F with Airbus supplying components the U.S. manufacturer could not.   However, Boeing ultimately withdrew before bidding which opened in February 2015.  The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) selected the KAI-Lockheed Martin team for the Korean Fighter Experimental (KF-X) program a month later. In November 2015, Indonesia agreed to fund ₩1.7 trillion ($1.54 billion in inflation adjusted 2020 dollars) or approximately 20% of the program’s development costs.  South Korea followed through by awarding the KF-X development contract to KAI in December.

    The Finance Ministry approved ₩8.69 trillion budget ($7.65 billion in adjusted 2020 dollars) for KF-X’s development over a period of 10 years and 6 months. Korean industry and Indonesia will fund 20% of the aircraft’s development costs each with South Korean government financing the remaining 60%.  The total program is expected to cost ₩18 trillion ($15.1 billion) for both development and production of 120 aircraft.



    Caption: Given the high risk of the KF-X program, the Korean National Assembly made only minor investments in the program until recently.   Funding in millions of dollars. Credit: AW IDS

    Lockheed Martin will provide more than 300 man-years worth of engineering expertise in assisting Seoul in designing its KF-X. Lockheed Martin will also offer more than 500,000 pages of technical documentation derived from the F-16, F-22 and F-35.

    Design Evolution

    With the objective of creating a reduced RCS but not LO design established, the ADD began exploring designs in 2012. The two primary candidates were a delta-wing canard design and a conventional tail and horizontal stabilizer layout which it considered to be European and U.S. style designs respectively. The C101 design followed the “U.S.” style wing-tail arrangement and progressed to the C-102, C-102E (single engine), C-102I (internal weapons bay), C-102T (twin-seat) and finally the C-103. The C-201 followed a similar progression with its own C-202, C-202E, C-202I, C-202T and C-203.

    Separately, KAI initially wanted to develop its own KFX-E which had a single engine which it argued was cheaper than the more ambitious C-103 and C-203 designs put forward by the ADD.  The company developed two versions of the KFX-E, one with a single vertical tail and one with canted twin tails. The KFX-E had an empty weight of 20,500 lb. (9.3 metric tons) and made use of technologies used on the FA-50 in flight control, landing gear, auxiliary power, electrical and environmental systems. During the 290th meeting of the Joint Chiefs in July 2014, the Joint Chiefs ruled that the KF-X must have two engines following an internal study as well as consultations with the DAPA, ADD and KIDA.  

    By the time Lockheed Martin won the separate F-X phase III in 2013, the ADD had moved to develop C-103 into the C-104 which featured conformal antennas and refined placement of internal systems.  Full scale development began in late 2015. The design grew significantly from the original C-103 which had a 10.7-meter wingspan and 10.9 metric ton empty weight. The intake was enlarged on the C-105 design – likely following the selection of the GE F414. The fuselage length and wingspan grew progressively throughout the design. The cockpit was moved forward in C-106 and the engines were spaced farther apart in C-107.



    The C-108 configuration made minor refinements to the C-107 design including the elimination of small forward extensions at the roots of the mainplane that blended with the fuselage. The leading edge now meets with the fuselage at a sharp angle. Furthermore, the fins of C-108 extend farther aft than C-107.  C-108 wingspan was 11.2 meters (36.8 ft.) with a length of 16.9 meters (increase of 10 cm or 4 inches) and height of 4.7 meters (down 10 cm).  The final C-109 design again made relatively minor refinements with a slight increase in wingspan and decrease in height. The preliminary design review (PDR) was finalized in June 2018 – freezing the configuration of the aircraft’s outer mold line.  The critical design review was completed in September 2019 which validated design details prior to prototype manufacturing.



    The KF-X airframe is 55.45 feet long (16.9 meters) long, has a wingspan of 37.5 feet (11.2 meters) and height of 15.1 feet (4.6 meters).  The aircraft has an empty weight of 26,500 lb. (12,000 kg), maximum take-off weight of 56,440 lb. (25,600 kg) and payload of up to 16,976 lb. (7,700 kg) across 10 hardpoints.  KF-X has a maximum range of 1,800 miles (2,900 km) and maximum speed of Mach 1.8  

    Broadly, the final C109 design shares an initial resemblance to the F-22 with its caret inlets and boundary layer diverter, canted twin tails aligned with the inlets, prominent chine running from the nose to the upper inlet surface, flat lower fuselage (unlike the F-35), etc. However, the KF-X’s wing geometry differs from the F-22’s much larger diamond shaped wings win run closer to the aircraft’s horizontal stabilizers. The F-22’s wing area is 840 sq. ft. (78.04 m^2) compared to 500 sq. ft. (46 m^2). However, the KF-X’s much lower weight ensures it has a relatively low wing loading even with a comparatively smaller wing.  In October 2019, Jung Kwang-seon, chief of DAPA’s KF-X development team, said “It’s operating cost is half of the U.S. stealth jet and features high-tech maneuvering capability next to the F-35A”. 

    Reduced Observability

    As per the KF-X ROC requirements, the KF-X design features a reduced radar cross section (RCS) but not full LO. Block I aircraft make use of shaping techniques to lower the aircraft’s RCS including the use of planform alignment on the aircraft’s flight surfaces, serpentine ducts to obscure the face of the engines to radar and use of radar absorbent structures within the airframe. South Korean media discuss the Block I as having an RCS lower than the F/A-18E/F on the order of 0 to -10 dBSM or 1 to 0.1m^2.   As the Block I will have provisions for but will not fitted with an internal weapons bay, stores will be mounted on wing pylons or conformally along the aircraft’s fuselage. However, the use of external stores will significantly degrade the aircraft’s signature performance.  

    The notional Block II design will reduce the KF-X’s RCS further with the introduction of an internal weapons bay and improved radar absorbent material (RAM) coatings.   Likely RCS reduction enhancements could include use of an electroconductive canopy, conductively coated lights, minimizing gaps between panels (such as applying form-in-place sealant), etc.    However, even with Block II enhancements, the KF-X will not approach the LO of the F-35 and F-22. The ADD has said the Block II would have a similar RCS as the F-117 which is equal to a small bird on the order of -20 dBSM or 0.01 m^2.   The F-35 and F-22 have a frontal RCS of a golf ball and steel marble respectively or 0.0013m^2 and 0.0002m^2.  As per the following equation, a one order of magnitude reduction in RCS corresponds to a 44% reduction in detection range while a two order of magnitude reduction corresponds to a 68% reduction in detection range:  

    R2/R1 = (σ2/σ1)1/4

    R1 = the maximum range from which a target of RCS σ1 can be detected given the noise background.

    R2 = the new maximum range at which the target can be detect if the RCS is reduced from σ1 to σ2

    The current C-109 design has a number of outer mold line features which inherently limit its LO potential. The Skyward IRST is not mounted in an enclosed LO aperture such as the F-35’s EOTS or F-22’s truncated AIRST. For ease of integration purposes, no effort was made to internal carry an internal EO targeting sensor like EOTS. The EOGTP will be externally mounted which will reduce the ability of the KF-X to conduct air-to-surface missions in an LO configuration. The C-109 also lacks rear aspect LO. The GE F414-400 engines do not incorporate sawtooth edges or other modifications to reduce radar returns.  



    The ADD has been tasked with developing an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the KF-X in partnership with Hanwa Systems and Elbit.  Before full-scale KF-X development began in 2014, South Korean industry had some experience developing naval and ground based AESA radars – but no fighter mounted radars. In 2016, the ADD chose Hanwa over LIG Next1 as the prime contractor and budgeted ₩380 billion ($315 million) for the radar’s development . In 2017, Elta was awarded a $37 million contract to provide technology and operational testing for the KF-X’s radar development. As of October 2019, the KF-X radar has been flight tested on board Elta’s 737 radar test bed 10 times in Israel and six times in Korea. In February 2020, Elbit announced it had received a $43 million contract from Hanwa Systems to develop terrain following and terrain avoidance systems.

    The radar passed a critical design review (CDR) in May 2019. The KF-X prototype is due to flight test the radar in 2023 and development is due to complete in 2026 – just prior to the delivery of the first Block I aircraft.  As of March 2020, development of the radar was 50% complete and prototype testing was expected within months.  The radar will have approximately 1,000 transmit receiver (TR) modules and reportedly has a range of 68 miles (110 km) – presumably against a fighter sized target between 1-5 m^2.  In comparison, the Northrop Grumman APG-80 has 1,020 T/Rs for the F-16 Block 60 and is estimated to have a range of approximately 60 nautical miles (111 km) against a 1 m^2 target.  Hanwa’s radar will use gallium-nitride (GaN) semi-conductors.  

    ALQ-200K Electronic Warfare System

    In response to the U.S. withholding RF jamming technology from the KF-X program, Korea sought to modify the existing LIGNex1 ALQ-200K electronic warfare pod for internal carriage within the KF-X. The ALQ-200K pod was originally developed to replace the KF-16’s internal ALQ-165 electronic warfare system which first entered ROKAF service in 1999.  The ALQ-200K is capable of modern Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) jamming techniques and has greater power output and antenna gain than the ALQ-165.  

    Infrared Search and Track

    The KF-X’s Infrared Search and Track (IRST) will be based upon the Leonardo Skyward system which has also been selected for the Saab JAS 39 E/F Gripen. Leonardo says the system has a search azimuth of plus or minus 85° horizontally and plus or minus 65° vertically.  The system weighs 55 lb. (25 kg) and operates in the mid-wave and long-wave infrared spectrum. No range figures were available at the time of this writing, but for benchmarking purposes, the Russian OLS-35 IRST used on the Su-35 can detect a Su-30 frontally at 18 miles (30 km) and 56 miles (90 km) from the rear.  Leonardo’s older Pirate IRST used on the Eurofighter reportedly has a range between 31 to 50 miles (50 to 80 km), and has an identification range greater than 25 miles (40 km).  

    Electro-Optical Ground Targeting Pod

    Hanwha will develop the Electro-Optical Ground Targeting Pod (EOGTP) which will deliver by 2026 for the first Block I aircraft. The pod will be capable of day and night detection and tracking of ground targets as well as providing semi-active laser guidance for precision guided munitions.


    Cockpit layout features a Hanwa Systems multi-function display measuring 8 x 20 inches.  The HUD will be a BAE Systems design manufactured under license by LIG Nex1.  Cobham will supply conformal antennas for the aircraft’s Communications, Navigations and Identification antennas.  The aircraft will use a data link provided by LIGNex1 though KAI has stated Link 16 or other data links could be integrated in the future.


    Weapons Carriage

    In February 2019, Jung Kwang-sun, head of KAI’s KF-X Development Division remarked that KAI had kept the space provisions for a weapon bay within the fuselage at the request of the ROKAF.  A KAI KF-X promotional video from February 2019 showed two internal weapon bays with 2 AIM-120s each.  The earlier C-107’s weapon bays could accommodate four AIM-120s for air-to-air missions or four GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs and two AIM-120s for self-defense. However, these promotional materials were created prior to the decision to use the MBDA Meteor and Diehl IRIS-T.

    Cobham was awarded a contract worth more than £7 million deliver Missile Eject Launchers (MEL) for the KF-X program.  The MELs a long stroke ejection system which throw weapons from the launch platform at a speed of 30 ft. (9 meters) per second.


    South Korea originally wanted to arm the KF-X with U.S. made weapons including the Raytheon AIM-120C radar guided AAM and AIM-9X IR guided AAM.  However, the U.S. was unwilling to provide export licenses for the missiles. Thus, the DAPA selected the MBDA Meteor and Diel IRIS-T. DAPA’s analysis concluded U.S. missiles would have been easier to integrate and less costly.  In November 2019, MBDA was awarded a contract to integrate the Meteor on the KF-X.  However, the ROKAF still wants to use U.S. missiles and a renewed push to integrate U.S. AAMs on the KF-X is expected after its first flight in mid-2022.  The KF-X will also be armed with a 20 mm M61 Vulcan Cannon which will be mounted on the port side.


    Block II aircraft will be able to carry a variety of air-to-ground munitions including the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), laser JDAM (LJDAM), Korea GPS Guided Bomb (KGGB), GBU-39/B SDB I, GBU-53/B SDB II, HARM anti-radiation missile and LIG Nex1 low observable stand-off cruise missile.    

    The missile is expected to have the following characteristics: range less than 310 mi. (500 km), weighs less than 2,900 lb. (1,300 kg) and has a warhead weight of less than 1,102 lb. (500 kg). Preliminary development began in late 2016 at a projected cost of ₩300 billion ($250 million) and a production run off 200 rounds is estimated to cost ₩500 billion. The new cruise missile is smaller than the KEPD 350K-2 externally, but the missile will not fit within in the weapon bays of the Lockheed Martin F-35. It is intended to be carried by the KF-X. Guidance will be similar to that of the KEPD 350K-2, which uses inertial and satellite and imagining infrared systems. Taurus’s missiles have warheads designed for penetrating hardened targets. The function of the warhead that ADD is designing is unknown.


    The KF-X will be powered by a pair of GE F414-400K turbofan engines capable of producing 22,000 lbf. each. KAI, Hanwha Techwin and the DAPA evaluated both the F414 and Eurojet EJ200 with 26.7% of the assessment points allocated to cost, 33.3% to technical issues such as performance, 24.7% to opportunities for domestic production, and 15.4% on “management,” including terms and conditions and technology transfer.  The GE F414 bid was found to be superior in all aspects of evaluation.

    In June 2020, South Korea took delivery of its first F414-400K engine. GE announced it expects to deliver 240 F414s to KAI over the life of the KF-X program and 15 engines are currently on order to power six prototypes.  



    The KF-X family will consist of the KF-X and IF-X which encompasses both single and twin seat derivatives of each aircraft as well as three block configurations.

    Block I

    As described above, initial production configuration of KF-X with air-to-air capability. Sources disagree on if the Block I will have either a limited or no air-to-ground capability. The Block I has provisions for an internal weapons bay but can only carry weapons externally.

    Block II

    Planned for introduction in 2029, the proposed Block II configuration will allow for internal stowage of munitions. Full air-to-ground munitions capability would be added. Some sources do not think the Block II will materialize as with the Block III. 

    Block III

    Plans for a notional Block III with full LO provisions has been discussed, but such a configuration has not been approved for serial production.

    Indonesian IF-X

    Indonesia has reportedly requested a number of modifications for their IF-X. These changes include a refueling probe (instead of boom refueling), greater range and a data link that would enable the aircraft to share data with Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 fighters.  


    Production & Delivery History

    South Korea

    The ROKAF plans to procure an initial batch of 120 KF-Xs between 2026 and 2032 to replace its F-4 Phantom and F-5 Tiger II fleets. KAI began manufacturing its first KF-X prototype on February 14, 2019 and started final assembly of the prototype in September 2020. KAI plans to roll out its prototype in 2021 with a first flight following in 2022. A total of six prototypes will be produced, including four single seat and two twin seat aircraft.  The ROKAF will review test results in 2024 prior to issuing a production contract. KAI plans to conduct 2,100 flight tests by the first half of 2026.  A total of 40 aircraft produced from 2026 to 2029 will be of the Block I configuration. The next batch of 80 aircraft is planned between 2029 and 2032 and may be built to the Block II standard.  The ROKAF might procure additional aircraft to replace its F-16 fleet.


    In 2018, Indonesian President Joko Widodo sought to renegotiate the terms of Indonesia’s involvement with the KF-X program. In the end of 2017, the Indonesian Finance Ministry refused to fund a $124.5 million payment for KF-X development. In January 2017, Chief of Staff Gen. Lee Wang-kuen traveled to Jakarta to meet with Air Chief Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto. Indonesia is supposed to pay two contributions each year but has little margin for a costly long-term development project. Total defense outlays for 2017 totaled $8.17 billion and fell to $7.98 billion in 2018. The Indonesian Air Force is already looking to procure both Sukhoi Su-35s and Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 72s within the next few years. In January 2019, Indonesia made a ₩132 billion ($109 million) contribution for a sum total of ₩220 billion ($183 million) out of ₩520 billion ($432 million) owed to the program. In December 2019, the DAPA announced Indonesia had requested a reduction in development costs and an increased in technology transfer.  


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  • DARPA Eyes New Weapon Concepts In 2021 Program Plans

    Date: 02/17/2020 10:45 AM

    DARPA Eyes New Weapon Concepts In 2021 Program Plans james.pozzi@av… Mon, 02/17/2020 - 09:45

    A multi-target air-to-air weapon and gun-armed close-support missile are among new projects DARPA plans to launch in fiscal 2021. New approaches to communicating in contested environments, attacking signals and countering laser weapons are also on the list.

    The Defense Department is seeking $3.57 billion in funding for its advanced research projects agency in 2021, an increase of just over 3% from 2020.

    Among the projects planned for initiation in 2021 is LongShot, for which DARPA is seeking $22 million. LongShot will demonstrate an air-launched weapon system that will use a slower-speed, longer-range air vehicle for transit to the engagement zone where it will launch multiple air-to-air missiles.

    The weapon will be carried externally on existing fighters or internally on bombers. Multi-mode propulsion will significantly increase engagement range while allowing air-to-air missiles to be launched closer to their targets, reducing reaction time and increasing terminal energy and kill probability.

    LongShot appears to be a follow-on to the Flying Missile Rail concept revealed by DARPA in 2017. This was a device carrying a pair of AIM-120 air-to-air missiles that could remain under the wing of and F-16 or F/A-18 or fly away from the host aircraft, acting as a booster to extend the range of the missiles.

    “LongShot will explore new engagement concepts for multi-modal, multi-kill systems that can engage more than one target,” according to DARPA budget documents. Fiscal 2021 funding would take the program through to a preliminary design review for the demonstration system.

    DARPA is seeking $13.3 million for begin the Gunslinger program to demonstrate a tactical-range weapon that will combine the maneuverability of a missile with ability of a gun to engage different types of target. Envisioned missions are close air support, counter insurgency and air-to-air engagements.

    Metrics for the system are total range, including transit, loiter and engagement, as well as effectiveness, according to the documents. Development of such a missile system will require vehicle concepts that have the aerodynamic, propulsion and payload to enable a wide operational envelope, says DARPA. 

    Gunslinger will also require “algorithms that support maneuvering and target recognition to enable expedited command decision making for selecting and engaging targets, and approaches to incorporating modularity of design to reduce cost,” the documents say.

    DARPA is seeking $15.1 million in 2021 for another new project, Counter High Energy Lasers (C-HEL), which aims to develop a system to detect, locate and disrupt energy laser weapons before they can inflict irreversible damage.

    The project will study novel sensors, protective materials and obscurants as well as optical and kinetic defeat systems. Fiscal 2021 funding would take the project through the conceptual design review for an initial operational C-HEL system and field testing of protective coatings.

    Developing small photonic terminals that can establish high-bandwidth communications links between microsatellites and mobile platforms is the goal of Portable Optical Integrated Network Transceivers (POINT), a new project for which $9.2 million is sought in 2021.

    Existing optical terminals with gimballed telescopes are too large for microsatellites, and POINT will leverage the recent developments in optical phased-array transmitters to develop transceivers with no moving parts, dramatically reducing their size, weight and power requirements.

    Providing tactical beyond-line-of-sight communications in an anti-access/area-denial environment by deploying low-cost expendable repeaters ground vehicles, unmanned aircraft, high-altitude platforms and low-orbiting satellites is the goal of the new Resilient Networked Distributed Multi-Transceiver Communications (RNDMC) project, for which $7.4 million is sought in 2021.

    Proportional Weapons, for which $6 million is sought in 2021, is a new project to develop a real-time capability to tune the effects of families of munitions to be able to breach a structure, or clear an area, while minimizing collateral damage. “Novel approaches are needed that are absolutely effective from the air or ground against several scales of primarily urban, concealed threats while not being catastrophically destructive,” say DARPA budget documents.

    Other new projects for fiscal 2021 include: Dynamic Airspace Control ($13.7 million), to develop ways to surveil and manage local airspace without using high-power radar; Non-Kinetic Effects ($7.5 million), to develop new electronic-warfare systems to sense, attack and also protect signals; and Port Defense ($7.4 million), to use expendable unmanned undersea vehicles for mine countermeasures.

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    If ANY of these systems are being developed on ANY type of computer with access to the internet, or data is sent over the internet to any subcontractors, regardless of supposed security we might as well publish it openly to the enemies of democracy, as they will not only have all the design and mfg data, but will be able to get it operational years ahead of us. When will we learn that we are our own worst enemy, and face up to the need to REALLY keep things proprietary and off the internet!
    Gunslinger sounds like a program where Metalstorm may re-emerge as a viable technology. Forget about a magazine, just install a bunch of pre-loaded barrels, and hey presto you have the ability to achieve rates of fire up to 1,000,000 rounds per minute!
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Some of these aviation news pages are compiled with a RSS feed from several news sources. As such, we can not take any responsibility for the correctness of these items.

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