Curtiss-Wright to Provide Complete Data Acquisition System Solution for South Korean KF-X Fighter Program

Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division announced that it was awarded a contract by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to provide a complete data acquisition system (DAS) for use in flight-test campaigns for the new Korean Fighter eXperimental (KF-X) 5th generation multirole fighter aircraft program.

Under the contract, Curtiss-Wright will provide KAI with a complete flight test instrumentation (FTI) system that gathers and processes data from the aircraft during test flights.

The fully integrated DAS solution will feature Curtiss-Wright’s next-generation Axon™ miniature data acquisition unit (DAU), the FTI industry’s most compact and high-speed DAU. In addition, the DAS will include Curtiss-Wright’s KAM-500™ DAUs, NSW-12GT-1 12-Port Gigabit airborne network switches, TTS-9800-2 tri-band transmitter, nEUP-2000-1 engineering unit processor, ANT-00800T-1 L/S-band antenna, LDP-050-AB-1 airborne-rugged 5-inch diagonal display and GPS-FLR-100-1 active GPS splitter. Shipments, which are expected to begin in August 2020, are scheduled to run through the end of the year.

“We are very proud that our industry-leading integrated data acquisition technology has been selected by Korea Aerospace Industries to support the important 5th generation K-FX fighter jet program, further strengthening our long and successful relationship,” said Lynn Bamford, President, Defense and Power Segments. “Curtiss-Wright uniquely offers the components and expertise needed to provide FTI customers with complete fully integrated FTI system solutions. We are especially pleased, as this contract represents the largest win to date for our industry-leading Axon data acquisition system technology, as well as the first 5th generation fighter jet deployment for Axon.”

Flight-test campaigns are critical to determine that a new aircraft meets design specifications, is functional and safe, and can be certified for use. Such campaigns require significant resources and any delays are very costly, making it critically important that all FTI equipment work reliably to ensure that no unplanned extra flights are needed.

The Axon product family is the most advanced airborne data acquisition system available today, offering low size, weight and power (SWaP) with the best feature set, data acquisition and thermal performance on the market. The Axon product family builds on Curtiss-Wright’s heritage as the leading supplier of rugged reliable data acquisition for aerospace applications.

Axon’s future proof design, using a high-speed serial backplane (1 Gbps dedicated link per module), ensures future high data rates are supported. Its low SWaP design means it can be located in tight spaces and operate reliably without requiring bulky heatsinks. This design also allows any of the Axon family user modules to be placed in ultra-miniature “Axonite” housings and located remotely, separated from the chassis by up to 10 meters. Locating data acquisition closer to the sensors can significantly decrease the installation time and cost of the instrumentation while simultaneously reducing wiring weight. Axonites can also offer significant system cost saving in larger installations by reducing the number of DAUs required in remote locations and thus cutting down on extra chassis, controller and power supply costs.

Curtiss-Wright designed the products covered by this agreement at its Aerospace Instrumentation facilities in Newtown, Pennsylvania and Dublin, Ireland. The products are being shipped to KAI in Sacheon-City, Gyeongnam, Korea.

KAI KF-X

The KAI KF-X, also known as IA IF-X in Indonesia, is a joint South Korean and Indonesian fighter aircraft development program, intending to develop an advanced multirole fighter for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) and Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU).

KAI KF-X Mock-up at ADEX 2019
KAI KF-X Mock-up at ADEX 2019.

The project was first announced by the then South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung at the graduation ceremony of the Korea Air Force Academy in March 2001. The program is spearheaded by South Korea, holding 80% of shares, and was joined by Indonesia in 2010 for the remaining 20% of the shares.

The KF-X aircraft will be powered by two GE Aviation F414 turbofan engines and will be equipped with a Martin-Baker Mk18 ejection seat. GE Aviation delivered the first F414-GE-400K turbofan engine for the KF-X program in May 2020.

UTC Aerospace Systems is providing the fighter’s complete environmental control system—including air conditioning, bleed air control and cabin pressurization and liquid cooling—along with the aircraft’s air turbine starter and flow control valve. The company, along with South Korea’s KAES Hanwha,  will design, develop and produce the main electric power generation system (MEPGS) for the jet.

The KF-X is scheduled to conduct its maiden flight in 2023, with planned operational deployment in 2026 replacing South Korea’s aging F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II aircraft.



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