South Korean aerospace and defense company Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) issued an image of the first KF-X fuselage, which is undergoing assembly in the company’s Sacheon factory. KAI says that the prototype of its Korean Fighter Experimental (KF-X) multirole fighter aircraft will be rolled out in April 2021 with the first flight planned in 2022.

The first mass-produced KF-X aircraft, which comes in Block 1, between 2026 and 2028 will be equipped with limited air-to-ground weapons in addition to air-to-air weapons and No Internal Weapons Bay and slowly in the Block 2 KF-Xs, which will be series-produced from 2029, will come to a host of 5th generation fighter capable of performing full air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions.

Speed and sensible block upgrade methods suggest that both South Korea and co-developer Indonesia have rather adopted block upgrades to achieve 5th generation technology. India has adopted similar block upgrades to the 5th generation fighter jet but India’s AMCA program is yet to officially take off as delays and timelines keep shifting in the program. The KF-X and AMCA have similar characteristics, including the fact that both aircraft will be powered by two US-built F414 jet engines. The KF-X and AMCA also have a loaded weight of around 25 tonnes each and will be capable of carrying weapons and equipment both internally and externally.

Additional fighter jet programs like TEDBF and Tejas Mk2 too have been prioritized over AMCA program which could be due to lack of skilled manpower and allocation of the budget which could make India last country to join the 5th generation brigade while countries like China and Russia have already developed 5th generation fighter jets, while the United States already has its second 5th generation fighter jet in production and countries like Japan and South Korea already progressing from drawing board stage to prototype stage

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