South Korea further details KF-X development timetable

South Korea plans to complete a design process for its own fighter aircraft by September next year and produce the first prototype in 2021, the nation's arms agency said Friday, June 29, 2018.

KF X meteor integration 001 A KF-X mock-up showcased at ADEX 2017 airshow

The timetable is based on some progress in the KF-X program aimed at manufacturing around 120 advanced fighter jets to replace the Air Force's aging F-4 and F-5 combat planes. The so-called 4.5-generation fighters will be upgraded to have stealth functions, if needed.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has partnered with Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI), a local defense firm, and Indonesia for the project worth 8.8 trillion won (US$7.8 billion).

Earlier this week, the DAPA conducted a preliminary design review (PDR) of the envisioned jet and concluded that it has met the requirements of the military. It's set to advance to a detailed design task.

"The PDR has been finished successfully to decide whether to proceed to a critical design review (CDR)," Jung Kwang-sun, head of the DAPA's KF-X Program Group, said. "We plan to complete the detailed design process by September 2019 ... and then begin the production of a prototype."

KAI aims to roll out the first version by 2021 for the maiden test flight in the latter half of the following year with a view to wrapping up the development work by 2026.