South Korea unveils prototype AESA radar for KF-X fighter

South Korea’s has unveiled a prototype of an advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for its KF-X fifth generation fighter jet project, accelerating efforts to complete the development by 2026, The Korea Herald reported.

South Korea’s arms procurement agency, Agency for Defense Development (ADD) has conducted various tests to ensure capability of the mock-up version of the active electronically scanned array radar system at the Hanwha Systems research institute in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province. Hanwha Systems is the primary contractor for the development of the radar system.

The mock-up AESA radar consists of antenna and power supply and had acquired targets within 120-degree detection range by transmitting electronic wave. Using 1,000 tansmitter/receiver modules, it can detect a target as small as one meter long during an actual combat, according to ADD officials.

AESA will undergo five years of flight tests from 2022 and 2026 by mounting it onto a prototype fighter jet for Korean Fighter Experimental program, or KF-X, whose development is scheduled to be finished in 2026, according to Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), which oversees the ADD.

South Korea launched the project to develop its own AESA radar system after the US refused to transfer core technologies to be applied to the KF-X jets in 2015.

About KF-X:

Korea Aerospace Industries KF-X/Indonesian Aerospace IF-X is a South Korean and Indonesian program to develop an advanced multirole fighter for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) and Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU), spearheaded by South Korea with Indonesia as the primary partner.

It is South Korea’s second fighter development program following the FA-50.

The project was first announced by South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung at the graduation ceremony of the Korea Air Force Academy in March 2001. South Korea and Indonesia agreed to cooperate in the production of KF-X/IF-X warplanes in Seoul on July 15, 2010.

The initial operational requirements for the KF-X/IF-X program as stated by the ADD (Agency for Defence Development) were to develop a single-seat, twin-engine jet with stealth capabilities beyond either the Dassault Rafale or Eurofighter Typhoon, but still less than the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

The overall focus of the program is producing a 4.5th generation fighter with higher capabilities than a KF-16 class fighter by 2020. Quantities of the resulting fighter are planned at 120 for the ROK Air Force and 80 for the Indonesian Air Force. South Korea plans to procure it from 2023 to 2030.

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