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Aviation Week Headlines

  • 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.


  • Dassault Falcon 7X/Falcon 8X

    Date: 10/11/2021 11:17 PM

    Dassault Falcon 7X/Falcon 8X [email protected] Mon, 10/11/2021 - 21:17

    Dassault Aviation’s Falcon 7X and 8X are a pair of three-engine business jets that are produced by the French manufacturer. Although they have different commercial designations, both are based on the company’s Falcon 7X type, with the 8X commercial designation used for airframes that incorporate a number of modifications in comparison to the 7X. The Falcon 7X preceded the 8X and was announced by the company at the 2001 Paris Air Show, with the airframe making its first flight on May 5, 2005, from the Bordeaux-Merignac Airport in France, the location of Dassault manufacturing facilities. Following its flight-test program, the 7X was certified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on April 27, 2007, with the first airframe—Serial No. 05—delivered in June 2007.

    According to the EASA type certificate data sheet (TCDS) issued for the 7X, airframes that are marketed as the Falcon 8X are distinguished from those which use the Falcon 7X commercial designation by serial number and other changes that were made as part of the 8X program. As is the case with a number of Falcon commercial designations, the TCDS issued by the FAA notes that “[t]he Falcon 8X does not correspond to a model designation. The Falcon 8X is only a commercial designation for a stretch version of the Falcon 7X that incorporates modifications M1000 and M1254 (EASy III) installed at production.” The EASA and FAA TCDS also note that the changes contained in modification M1000 apply to “all Falcon 7X aircraft starting with [Serial No.] 0401.” Representing the first time that Dassault had stretched one of its designs in order to create a derivative airframe, the Falcon 8X program was launched by the company on May 19, 2014, at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, with the airframe promoted as being “in the ultra-long-range category.” The first flight of the Falcon 8X took place on Feb. 6, 2015, a flight that also originated at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport and which lasted 1 hr. and 45 min. The changes to the Falcon 7X type that are marketed as the 8X received EASA and FAA certification in June 2016, with the first 8X subsequently delivered to Greek operator Amjet on Oct. 5, 2016. The type certificate for the Falcon 7X, which also includes the changes that are marketed as the 8X, is held by Dassault Aviation in Paris.

    Certification Dates (EASA)

    Falcon 7X

    April 27, 2007

    Falcon 8X

    June 2016

    Cabin Dimensions, Outfitting and Passenger Capacity

    Both airframes based on the Falcon 7X type are certified to a maximum seating capacity of 19 passengers, with airframes marketed as the Falcon 7X accommodating passengers in a cabin that has a length and volume—setting aside the flight deck and baggage area—of 39 ft. 1 in. and 1,552 ft.3 In comparison to the Falcon 900, the length and volume of the 7X’s cabin is increased by 6 ft. and 20%, respectively. Beyond the space that is available in the cabin, the 7X has a baggage volume of 140 ft.3 Another commonality between the 7X and 8X commercial designations is the maximum number of living areas in the cabin—three—with 12-16 passengers able to be accommodated in those living areas. Other aspects of the 7X cabin include 28 “large” windows and lower noise levels (50-52 dB) and a temperature-control system that is promoted for its sophistication. The airframe’s cabin-pressurization system allows the cabin to have the pressure of 3,950 ft. when operating at 41,000 ft., with the Collins Aerospace’s FalconCabin HD+ cabin management system marketed as giving passengers connectivity and entertainment features such as a wireless media server called “Skybox” that is able to store 1 terabyte of music and video. Additionally, the functions of the cabin can be controlled throughout the cabin using Apple devices. Supplementing the standard features of the 7X’s cabin, available options include a shower and a second lavatory.

    Although it shares the same 19-passenger capacity as the Falcon 7X, the fuselage of the Falcon 8X is 3 ft. 7 in. longer, giving it the longest cabin of any Falcon. The 8X’s 80 ft. 3 in.-long fuselage yields a cabin that has an increased length of 42 ft. 8 in., as well as an increased total volume of 1,695 ft.3, figures that also exclude the baggage space and flight deck. According to the airframe manufacturer, the cabin—which has a height 6 ft. 2 in. and width of 7 ft. 8 in.—is able to be configured in more than 30 possible layouts. The possible layouts include a “three-lounge cabin” that has a crew-rest area in the forward portion of the cabin and a shower in the aft portion of the cabin, as well as another that features a “large entryway,” galley and a crew-rest area that is described as being lie-flat. Dassault also states that three galley sizes are available, with the largest galley—measuring 93 in.—accommodating a crew berth that is lie-flat and which measures 78 in. Given the cabin’s size, other available options include a six-seat conference seating area located in the mid-cabin, a forward bar/lounge area and a VIP stateroom, with sleeping berths available for as many as six passengers. The stateroom option is located in the aft portion of the cabin and can incorporate a shower and lavatory, with the space able to be “converted into a media room” that features a 32-in. pop-up television. In spite of the cabin space that is occupied by the VIP stateroom, the 8X’s cabin still retains the ability to have three lounge areas.

    Another feature of the 8X’s cabin is that it is able to maintain a cabin altitude that is several thousand feet lower than that of many airliners and competing business jets, with a cabin altitude of 3,900 ft. promoted as being possible at 41,000 ft. Supplementing that cabin altitude is the quietness of the cabin, which is promoted as having a speech interference level (SIL) of 49 dB. The cabin environment itself is controlled using the previously mentioned FalconCabin HD+, with “all cabin functions”—including temperature, window shades and lighting—controlled through a “side-ledge control or mobile app.” Connectivity options include 3G and 4G ground networks, as well as KA-, KU- and L-band satellite communications (satcom) capabilities which allow passengers to e-mail, browse the internet and video conference in “real time.” Dassault states that, in particular, the KA-band connectivity option allows for in-flight connectivity to be maintained even during oceanic flights.


    Regardless of the passenger capacity, two flight crewmembers are required to operate the Falcon 7X type, which was the first business jet to be equipped with fly-by-wire (FBW) flight controls. Dubbed the digital flight control system (DFCS), it is promoted as being directly transferred from the fighter airplanes produced by Dassault and for allowing the “precise handling” of the airframe, with other benefits of the system including “full flight envelope” and overspeed protection, as well as the prevention of stalls. Those benefits of the DFCS allow pilots to achieve the “maximum performance” of the 7X, with the DFCS providing that precise handling by “deploy[ing] the most efficient combination of control surfaces to make the airplane fly the desired path.” Beyond those features, the Dassault also markets the flight-control system as capable of improving the passenger experience by “dampen[ing] turbulence.” The hardware that comprises the DFCS includes “three main flight computers that receive control inputs and direct control movement,” with redundancy provided by three secondary computers.

    Further control redundancies are provided are provided by a pitch-trim switch that controls the trimmable horizontal stabilizer, as well as an analog control that “control[s] the two flight spoilers using rudder pedal displacement.” According to Dassault, the flight computers “permit precise flight-path control,” with pilots of both the 7X and 8X controlling the airplane using side-stick controllers that allow them to “follow a single flight path vector (FPV) cue.” Other DFCS functions include “auto-trim adjustments,” configuration optimization and stability augmentation. In addition to allowing for accurate flight-path control, the DFCS’ computers “provide built-in flight-envelope protection [that] allows pilots to extract maximum aircraft performance and efficiency without risk of overstressing the aircraft.” Specifically, the DFCS “monitor[s] pilot flight-control inputs and prevent[s] the aircraft from exceeding angle-of-attack, airspeed/Mach or load limits,” monitoring which is promoted by Dassault as being “invaluable in instances where maximum performance is needed, such as when encountering wind shear or taking collision-avoidance maneuvers.” Overall, the company describes the DFCS as giving operators “an ultra-smooth flying platform” that has “far higher margins of safety” in comparison to “conventional flight controls.”

    In addition to the side-stick controls, pilots operate the 7X using Honeywell’s Primus Epic-based Enhanced Avionics System (EASy) II flight deck, a standard that it was upgraded to starting in 2013. Beyond being included on 7X airframes produced since 2013, it can also be installed on airplanes manufactured prior to that year. Promoted as improving the situational awareness of the pilots and crew coordination, the 7X’s EASy II avionics includes four 14.1-in. displays that have features such as automated checklists and a synthetic vision system—the latter being an option that has had its display symbology improved—while also showing pilots environmental, position and situation information. Also shown on those displays are airplane system sensor, communications, flight management and navigation information. Arranged in a “T” configuration, the two outboard displays—which are located directly in front of the two pilots—are designated primary display units (PDU) and show short-term, tactical information that includes “traditional PFD [primary flight display] presentations” that are “permanently” shown alongside configuration and engine information, as well as crew-alerting system (CAS) messages. The pair of inboard displays—the multifunction display units (MDU)—are “stacked vertically” and give pilots strategic information such as from the flight management system (FMS), as well as navigation and systems information. With regard to the information displayed on the MDU, Dassault states that the upper MDU is “typically” used for the “control and display [of] navigational functions,” while the bottom MDU can be utilized for checklists, FMS and systems pages.

    The primary means by which pilots control the EASy II is through the use of a pair of cursor-control devices (CCD) that are located on the pedestal and which can utilize the system’s various pop-up and pull-down menus through a trackball controller. Dassault notes that those devices have benefits in comparison to pedestal-mounted keyboards, including the ease of use in turbulent conditions and the increased amount of time that they allow pilots to spend head-up. However, in spite of those benefits, the EASy II does have two multifunction keyboards on the flight deck’s pedestal.

    Additional improvements to the EASy II have also been made, such as a single-button takeoff and go-around (TOGA) mode that provides flight director guidance to pilots, as well as updated temperature compensation in the FMS. Communications protocols such as aeronautical telecommunications network (ATN B1), automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) Out and controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) are supported, protocols that are noted as decreasing potential miscommunication between air traffic control and pilots. Furthermore, the EASy II’s automated checklists have an “autosensing feature” that notes when a required action is completed, while also being connected to the airframe’s system displays. Dassault further promotes the system’s graphical flight planning for its intuitiveness, as well as for providing pilots with phase-of-flight specific information.

    Options available for the EASy II include an enhanced vision system (EVS) that is described as giving pilots a clear view of the airport environment and terrain while operating at night or in conditions such as fog, haze or snow. The EVS provides that feature to the pilots by showing infrared images on the system’s head-up guidance system and MDU. Also available as an option is the ability of the EASy II to utilize satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS) such as the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (ENGOS) and wide area augmentation system (WAAS)—as well as future SBAS—to perform localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches, a capability that allows the airframe to access a substantial number of additional airports, “particularly in adverse weather conditions.” Additional options include an automatic descent mode (ADM), ADS-C (contract), dual Jeppesen charts and graphical XM Weather that is integrated, with ABS-C and CPDLC specifically noted as being available in Future Air Navigation System (FANS 1/A+) airspaces.

    Described by Dassault as “leveraging four decades of path-stable, closed-loop auto-trim controls for military aircraft,” the Falcon 7X and 8X’s in-house-developed DFCS is promoted as providing pilot-workload benefits that improve both efficiency and safety. In comparison to the 7X, the 8X features the upgraded EASy III flight deck that is also based on the Primus Epic integrated avionics system, arranged in a “T” configuration and which has 14.1-in. displays. Also included with that third-generation flight deck—modification M1254, according to the EASA TCDS—are a pair of electronic flight bags (EFB) that are “integrated into the console” and which are marketed as the FalconSphere II. Located to the left and right of the PDU, the FalconSphere II contains documentation such as the airplane’s manuals, dispatch documentation, maintenance procedures and minimum equipment lists, performance data and charts that contain weight and balance information. According to the airframe manufacturer, the new features of the 8X’s EASy III installation include a CPDLC system that is integrated and a Honeywell RDR-4000 IntuVue color weather radar, the latter of which provides pilots with the “vertical definition” of thunderstorms and other hazardous weather to a range of 320 nm from the airplane. Additionally, the RDR-4000’s Doppler turbulence detection has a range of 60 nm, with the system also capable of predicting hail and lightning. The tilt of the radar is managed automatically, “with the radar scanning several tilt angles to generate a [three-dimensional] image of the weather.”

    One of the options available for the 8X’s avionics is a combined vision system (CVS) that is marketed as the FalconEye, and which integrates images from both the enhanced and synthetic vision systems. Certified by both EASA and the FAA as an enhanced flight vision system (EFVS) “that provides operational credit” when conducting approaches in poor-visibility conditions, that operational credit allows approaches to be performed to 100 ft. and enhances the airframe’s ability to access airports. Developed in concert with Israeli-manufacturer Elbit Systems, the operational credit to 100 ft. was certified as a result of a 2018 test campaign. Further described as giving pilots a high level of situational awareness during “all phases of flight” and “challenging weather conditions,” Dassault further states that the system is “the first head-up display to blend synthetic, database-driven terrain imaging and real-world thermal and low-light images into a single view.” Specific features of the FalconEye include a head-up display (HUD) that has a 40 (horizontal) X 30-deg. (vertical) field of view, as well as a resolution of 1280 X 1024 pixels. The images provided by the FalconEye come from a multi-sensor camera that is described as having six sensors that “present high-quality images in both the” infrared and visible spectrums, with the images provided by the fourth-generation camera being “combined with three dedicated worldwide synthetic vision databases that map” airport and runway data, obstacles and terrain. In addition to the 8X—on which the FalconEye has been available since “early 2017”—the system, which was introduced at the 2015 National Business Aviation Association Business Aviation (NBAA) Convention & Exhibition, is also certified for the Falcon 900LX, 2000S and 2000LXS, and will be available on the in-development Falcon 6X.

    Mission and Performance

    When compared to the other current Falcon airframes—with the exception of the in-development Falcon 10X—the 7X and 8X have the two highest range figures in Dassault’s Falcon series. The range of the 7X and 8X exceeds that of the 900LX (4,750 nm), 2000LXS (4,000 nm) and 2000S (3,350 nm), as well as the predicted range of the in-development 6X (5,500 nm). Only the predicted 7,500-nm range of the Falcon 10X exceeds the range capabilities of the 7X and 8X.

    When compared to non-Dassault long-range business jets, the 8X is most comparable to Bombardier’s Global 6500 and Gulfstream’s G600, both of which have the same 19-passenger maximum capacity of the 7X and 8X, while having a slightly greater range than the 8X at 6,600 nm. Although all three airframes have the same passenger capacity, the Global 6500 and G600 both have greater cabin lengths—43 ft. 3 in. and 45 ft. 2 in., respectively—with the latter airframe’s cabin also advertised as having a volume of 1,884 ft.3 While comparable airframes like the G500 and Global 5500 also retain the same passenger capacity as the 7X and 8X, G600 and Global 6500, the 7X’s range exceeds what the G500 and Global 5500 are advertised as being capable of.

    Comparison: Falcon 7X, Bombardier Global 6500 and Gulfstream G600

    Type Designation

    Falcon 7X



    Commercial Designation


    Global 5500

    Maximum Passenger Capacity


    Maximum Range (nm)




    Engines (2x)

    Pratt & Whitney Canada





    (Pearl 15)

    Engine Limit



    15,125 lb.

    Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW)(lb.)




    Maximum Landing Weight (lb.)




    Comparison: Falcon 8X, Bombardier Global 6500 and Gulfstream G600

    Commercial Designation

    Falcon 7X



    Type Designation

    Falcon 8X


    Global 6500

    Maximum Passenger Capacity


    Maximum Range (nm)



    Engines (2x)

    Pratt & Whitney Canada





    (Pearl 15)

    Engine Limit



    15,125 lb.

    Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW)(lb.)




    Maximum Landing Weight (lb.)




    From a performance perspective, the Falcon 7X type is limited to a maximum operating Mach number (MMO) of 0.90 Mach between 28,000 ft. and 51,000 ft., with that latter altitude also representing the airframe’s maximum operating altitude. Falcon 7X airframes that use that commercial designation are promoted as having a range of 5,950 nm when carrying eight passengers, three crewmembers and NBAA instrument flight rules (IFR) reserves. The takeoff distance (balanced field length) at the maximum takeoff weight (MTOW), sea-level altitude and standard conditions is 5,710 ft., while at the airframe’s typical landing weight—which is not specified—the approach speed (VREF) and landing distance are 104-kt. indicated airspeed (KIAS) and 2,070 ft., respectively. In addition to assuming a typical landing weight, the landing distance assumes a flight conducted under FAA Part 91 regulations, at sea-level altitude and while carrying eight passengers and NBAA IFR reserves. Similarly, the approach speed above is based on carrying NBAA IFR reserves—as well as eight passengers and three crew—and while operating at sea-level altitude. Because of that approach speed and landing distance, Dassault promotes the 7X as being able to utilize airports that have “stringent noise requirements” and which may require a steep approach, as well as those at high altitudes and which have hot conditions.

    On takeoff, the 8X is promoted as having a takeoff distance—assuming the airframe’s MTOW, standard conditions and sea-level altitude—of 5,880 ft. Although sea-level altitude is not one of the criteria assumed for the 8X’s 107-KIAS approach speed, the other criteria are the same as for the 7X’s approach speed (carrying eight passengers, three crew and NBAA IFR reserves). Also assuming an 8X that is carrying eight passengers, three crewmembers and NBAA IFR reserves—as well as at sea-level altitude—the landing distance is 2,220 ft., a figure that, along with the balanced field length noted above, allows for operations into city-center airports such as London City. In addition to the 7X and 8X—the latter of which was approved to operate at London City in April 2017, according to Dassault—the Falcon 900LX, 2000LXS and 2000S are also certified to conduct operations at the airport. As is the case with the 7X, Dassault markets the 8X’s performance when operating at high-altitudes and in hot conditions, as well as its ability to perform steep approaches and operate at airports that require significant climb gradients.


    Falcon 7X and 8X Specifications

    Type Designation

    Falcon 7X

    Commercial Designation

    Falcon 7X

    Falcon 8X

    Maximum Certified Passenger Capacity


    Maximum Range (nm)




    Pratt & Whitney Canada



    Static Thrust Limits (Takeoff/Max Continuous) (lb.)



    Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW)(lb.)



    Maximum Landing Weight (lb.)


    Usable Fuel (gal./lb.)




    86 ft.

    86 ft. 3 in.

    Wing Area

    761 ft.2


    76 ft. 8 in.

    80 ft. 3 in.


    26 ft.

    Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307

    Powering the Falcon 7X are three Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307A turbofan engines that have takeoff and maximum continuous static thrust limits—based on standard conditions and sea-level altitude—of 6,405 lb., with that former limit able to be maintained for 5 min. The FAA TCDS for both the PW307A and the 8X’s PW307D engines note that they are “twin-spool, axial-flow turbofan propulsion engines” that feature an annular combustor, single-stage fan, axial-centrifugal compressor that has multiple stages and high and low-pressure turbines that have two and three stages, respectively. Dassault states that the PW307A engines provide the 7X with its range and takeoff performance—as well as its quietness—while their time between overhaul (TBO) is 7,200 hr., which the manufacturer states is generally “14 years of operation.”

    In comparison to other airplanes in the ultra-long-range segment, the 8X is marketed as being as much as 20% more fuel efficient, with the airframe’s range increased even more thanks to the 2% improvement in the fuel consumed by the PW307D engines, and the thrust increased in by 5% over the 7X’s PW307A engines. Supplementing the ability to “deliver more pounds of thrust for each pound of fuel,” those Pratt & Whitney Canada engines also reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions to “30% below today’s most stringent standards,” with improvements to the engine itself including the fan seal. Although the engines themselves are improved to produce more thrust—as well as to reduce fuel burn and NOx emissions—the three-engine configuration is noted as having benefits with respect to takeoff runway requirements, oceanic routing and approach speed, with the three-engine configuration enabling the previously mentioned approach speed. Based on the same conditions noted above for the PW308A, the 8X’s PW308D has takeoff and maximum continuous static thrust limits of 6,725 lb.  

    Falcon 7X

    Described as having a “high-transonic design wing” that improves efficiency by 30% in comparison to “the previous generation”—while also providing a “double-digit improvement” in the lift-drag (L/D) ratio when compared to the wings found on prior Falcons—Dassault promotes the 7X’s wing as having operational benefits during cruise flight, as well as approach and landing. The operational benefits of the airfoil found on the first generation of the 7X type allow it to operate at higher Mach speeds at altitude while using less fuel, while also enabling “day-to-day” operations at Mach speeds that are equal or greater than 0.85 Mach. Furthermore, the wing allows the previously discussed approach speeds, speeds that are promoted as being the “slowest [and] safest” of similarly sized airplanes. Additional aerodynamic benefits are derived from the leading and trailing-edge devices—leading-edge slats and trailing-edge Fowler flaps that are double slotted—as well as from the shaping of the fuselage and wing. Also increased on the 7X’s wing in comparison to previous Falcon airfoils is the aspect ratio and sweepback angle—which Dassault promotes as improving the cruise performance efficiency during flight at high speeds—while the “sturdiness” of the wing is increased and the weight reduced thanks to the use of a composite and metal alloy structure is that is “simplified.” 

    Falcon 8X

    Although both commercial designations based on the Falcon 7X type have a common maximum passenger seating capacity and landing weight, there are a number of distinctions between the 7X and 8X airframes that go beyond the increased static thrust limits of the PW307D engines. Those distinctions include the previously mentioned increased fuselage length of the 8X, a change that Dassault describes as enabling the 8X to carry more than 3,000 lb. of additional fuel, raising the total usable fuel from the 7X’s 4,766-gal. (31,940 lb.) capacity to the 8X’s 5,244-gal. (35,141 lb.) limit. In spite of that increase in fuel capacity and associated weight, design changes to the ribs and wing panels result in the 8X having an empty weight that is “nearly identical to that of the 7X,” while the MTOW is increased by 3,000 lb. in comparison to the first version of the 7X type. Another benefit of the reduced weight of the wing’s internal structure—a reduction that is quantified as being “nearly 600 lb.”—is improved handling in turbulence thanks to the wing itself being more flexible.

    Changes were also made to the 8X’s wing in the form of a leading-edge wing profile that is new, as well as winglets that were “reengineered” and which produce less drag, with the combination of those changes contributing to an L/D radio that is further improved. A benefit of the 8X’s certified maximum weights—specifically, the MTOW and maximum landing weights—is that because the latter weight is 85% of the former, the airframe is able to fly a shorter segment in advance of a longer segment “without having to refuel.” Given that the 7X is able to land at nearly 90% of its MTOW, the same benefits are also noted for that airframe. Additionally, Dassault promotes the wing as having improved controllability and efficiency thanks to “more moving control surfaces, including three leading-edge slats, three airbrakes and two flaps.”

    Program Status/Operators

    The Falcon 7X and 8X are produced alongside the other in-production Dassault business jets at the company’s manufacturing facilities at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport. Although the manufacturing takes place there, the 7X and 8X are flown in a “green” configuration to Dassault’s completion facility in Little Rock, Arkansas, where the rest of the outfitting takes place. The company’s Little Rock facilities have been expanded multiple times to accommodate work on the 7X and 8X, with the first expansion taking place in 2008 and representing a “116,000-ft.2 upgrade that added four new paint bays”—as well as design, production and warehouse spaces—to be used for 7X airframes. A second that expansion was completed in 2015 that added a 250,000-ft.2 hangar for the 8X and, at the time, the 5X, prior to the latter’s cancellation.

    Despite the fact that the flight-test and production airframes are manufactured at Dassault’s Bordeaux-Merignac facilities, the bulk of the Falcon 7X and 8X’s test campaigns originated from the company’s Istres flight-test center near Marseille. The flight-test programs of both versions of the 7X type included three flight-test airplanes, with the functions of each 8X flight-test airframe discussed below.

    The first Falcon 8X flight-test airframe—Serial No. 401 and registered as F-WWQA—performed a variety of envelope-expansion tests, “including high-speed performance testing at 0.96 [Mach] (beyond its MMO), the maximum ceiling of 51,000 ft. and [the] full range of angles of attack.” Other tests performed by Serial No. 1 involved testing “different weight configurations, including [the] MTOW,” as well as performing “a high-energy brake test campaign.” In addition to Falcon 8X Serial No. 401, which conducted the first flight, the second flight-test airframe—Serial No. 402, registered as F-WWQB—made its first flight on March 30, 2015, from Bordeaux-Merignac Airport, a flight that lasted 2 hr. 45 min. At the time of its first flight, Dassault noted that this second test airframe would primarily conduct performance testing that would involve “parameters such as fuel consumption and takeoff/landing distance.”

    The third Falcon 8X test airframe—Serial No. 403 and registered as F-WWQC—flew for the first time a little over a month after the second flight-test airframe, with its first flight taking place on May 11, 2015. At the time of that flight, Dassault stated that Serial No. 403 would “be ferried to the Falcon completion facility in Little Rock, where it [would] be fitted out with a full cabin and tested for cabin comfort and sound level.” Other tests carried out by Serial No. 403 included cold-soak trials “conducted at Ranken Inlet, Nunavut, on the northwestern shore of Canada’s Hudson Bay.” The testing performed at Ranken Inlet involved the airplane’s systems—such as the avionics, digital flight control, electrical and hydraulic—in temperatures as low as -27F (-33C). Beyond carrying out this type of extreme-weather testing, Serial No. 403 also embarked on what Dassault described as a “global proving tour [that was] designed to demonstrate aircraft capabilities under different conditions of operation[,] with a particular focus on cabin comfort and connectivity.” That tour involved 65 flights which covered 55,000 nm and 46 destinations in regions such as “North, Central, and South America; Europe, the Middle East, China, and Southeast Asia.” Overall, the three flight-test airframes that were used in the Falcon 8X’s flight-test program performed over 400 flights that included 830 hr. of flight testing.


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  • KAI KF-21 (KF-X)

    Date: 10/07/2021 11:12 PM

    KAI KF-21 (KF-X) [email protected] Thu, 10/07/2021 - 21:12

    The Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-21 Boramae (Northern Goshawk) is a multi-role 4.5 generation fighter. The aircraft is powered by two General Electric (GE) F414-400K turbofan engines. The KF-21 will be built in two capability blocks with the first increment storing munitions externally while the second block stores munitions in an internal weapons bay. The aircraft was formerly designated as KF-X until April 2021. 


    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 (formerly 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” - which ranged between $36,000-44,000 for the A model in recent years. 

    Reduced Observability

    KF-21 prototype 01. Image Credit DAPA

    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

    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. General Dynamics' F-16XL had a 50% lower frontal RCS in a conformal stores air-to-air configuration than production F-16As at that time - corresponding to a 16% reduction in detection distance. However, General Dynamics found that this advantage was ostensibly negated when air-to-surface stores such as LANTRIN pods and bombs were fitted to the airframe.   

    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, its difficult to see how the KF-X could approach the LO of the F-35 and F-22. The F-35 and F-22 have a frontal RCS of a golf ball and steel marble respectively or approximately 0.0013m^2 (-30 dBsm) and 0.0002m^2 (-40 dBsm).  

    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 Hanwha 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 Hanwha 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 Hanwha 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.  Hanwha’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 Hanwha 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 for approximately ₩9.31 trillion or $8.27 billion. KAI began manufacturing its first KF-X prototype on February 14, 2019 and started final assembly of the prototype in September 2020. In April 2021, the company formally designated the type as the KF-21 in a roll out ceremony. The KF-21's first flight is expected to follow 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 2028 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 April 2021, KAI's CEO Hyun-ho Ahn discussed the KF-21 as a more affordable complement to the F-35. Citing external analysis, Hyun-ho Ahn believes the KF-21 could reach a fly-away cost of $65 million relative to the F-35A's $77.9 million in 2022. Sustainment cost would be approximately half of the JSF according to KAI. The cost-capability mix of the KF-21 could open many export opportunities in the late 2020s into the 2030s as even senior USAF officials have stated fifth generation aircraft are too expensive to maintain in large quantities. In many ways, the KF-21 tracks with the "son of F-16" type capabilities discussed by Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Brown. Notably, Hyun-ho Ahn would not discuss the development of the prospective Block II variant. 


    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. 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.  

    In February 2021, Air Chief Marshall Fadjar Prasetyo stated the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) intended to acquire 36 Dassault Rafales and at least eight Boeing F-15EX fighters to replace its Flankers. The service had previously expressed interest in the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 72 and the Sukhoi Su-35S. Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto attended the KF-21's roll out ceremony in April 2021 and met with Korean officials but these meetings reportedly did not resolve Indonesia's future participation in the program. 


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