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Subject: KFX - Korean Stealth Fighter
Softwar    11/20/2007 9:40:12 AM
Foreign Partners To Help Finance South Korea’s KFX Stealth Fighter Aviation Week & Space Technology 11/19/2007, page 32 Sunho Beck Seoul Printed headline: Financing the KFX South Korea will ask foreign partners to share development costs for its proposed KFX stealth fighter, moving beyond technical collaboration previously described. The foreign companies would pay for up to 30% of the program, says air force colonel Daeyeol Lee, head of the air system development team at Korea’s Agency for Defense Development. BAE Systems has expressed interest in developing the radar for the aircraft, Lee told a conference in Seoul. Alenia Aeronautica hopes to supply the weapons section of the KFX—which may mean the weapons bay, for which it is also responsible on the collaborative Neuron program to develop a European combat-drone technology demonstrator. EADS would like to provide KFX flight control and stealth technologies, among other elements, the agency says. EADS is believed to have offered an improved Typhoon as the basis for KFX. Saab also wishes to be a key partner, with designs evolved from its Gripen. The agency says Boeing, Snecma and General Electric are weighing whether to join the development program for the aircraft, which would serve between 2020 and 2040. That target represents a slip from the 2017 operational date stated in the earlier program plan. A government decision on proceeding with the KFX is to be made in 2009, allowing 11 years to develop and produce the first of 140 aircraft. Officials say the KFX would have “capabilities” between those of the F-15 and F-16, although they are presumably referring to its size and thrust, since a stealth aircraft fielded in 2020 would be expected to comfortably outperform 1970s-era designs. Accordingly, the KFX’s twin engines should be in the class of the General Electric F414 or Snecma M88, used on the Boeing F/A-18E/F and Dassault Rafale, respectively. Snecma describes the M88 as “the cornerstone of a family of new-generation engines based on a common core.” Notably absent from Lee’s list of potential partners is Lockheed Martin, which was heavily involved in the design and development of the Korea Aerospace T-50 supersonic jet trainer. It paid 13% of the development cost in return for a share of the unit price that the South Korean government is paying for production. Lockheed Martin is proposing the F-35 Lightning II for the next phase of another South Korean fighter program, the FX. Seoul bought 60 Boeing F-15 Eagles under Phases 1 and 2. The F-35 would be the obvious aircraft for the country to buy should the KFX program be canceled. The KFX program has entered the feasibility-study phase, a hurdle it is highly likely to clear, since the study is being done by a government institute with help from the Agency for Defense Development, a project proponent. “By 2030, the mainstay of the South Korean air force will be KFXs, F-15Ks, FA-50s and unmanned combat air vehicles,” says Lee, indicating the KFX will replace 130 F-16s license-built by Korea Aerospace up to 2004. It was previously unclear what aircraft the KFX would replace. The air force plans to establish the KFX program office in 2009.
 
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Phaid       1/28/2008 5:52:37 AM
And inevitably, after all the rosy predictions and enthusiasm to stick it to the mean old Americans, reality strikes.  The program would cost $10 billion and produce only $3 billion in economic benefits, so it is deemed unaffordable by the Korean government and will not continue.
 
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Photon       1/29/2008 2:15:27 AM

And inevitably, after all the rosy predictions and enthusiasm to stick it to the mean old Americans, reality strikes.  The program would cost $10 billion and produce only $3 billion in economic benefits, so it is deemed unaffordable by the Korean government and will not continue.
South Koreans might want to take a minute reviewing the history of Israeli aircraft production.  If anything, the Israelis have felt even stronger (compared to the South Koreans) about establishing the ability to domestically build their military hardware needs.  Yet, apart from Kfir and Lavi, they have not bothered too much.  Instead, the mainstay of their air force consisted of F-16s and F-15s.  Trying to design and build on their own = too expensive.

Now then, if we are talking about something in the league of F-35 or F-22, their unit cost dwarfs that of F-16 and F-15.  Even usually spendthrift Uncle Sam has trouble ordering more than 200-plus-several-tens of F-22s because their unit cost is .... @#%!!  Probably cheaper for the South Koreans to join in F-35 (or whatever) program and share R&D costs, but make sure to have a contract that allows them the right to build its components domestically.
 
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Lawman       1/31/2008 1:10:18 PM
On the other hand, though, if they are sensible and rely heavily on off-the-shelf equipment, the costs could be manageable - e.g. Typhoon's radar and engines, weapons systems from something else, and other parts from something else. This may lead to a Frankenstein's Monster of an aircraft, but the approach can work. If they keep it simple, and set the bar low enough, then it may produce a good, affordable next generation fighter. If, on the other hand, they try to set the bar too high, it will end up costing the earth, and probably end up not being worthwhile.
 
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dwightlooi       2/2/2008 12:41:06 PM

Officials say the KFX would have ?capabilities? between those of the F-15 and F-16, although they are presumably referring to its size and thrust, since a stealth aircraft fielded in 2020 would be expected to comfortably outperform 1970s-era designs. Accordingly, the KFX?s twin engines should be in the class of the General Electric F414 or Snecma M88, used on the Boeing F/A-18E/F and Dassault Rafale, respectively. Snecma describes the M88 as ?the cornerstone of a family of new-generation engines based on a common core.?

There is no reason to go for a twin in that thrust class. A twin engine aircraft with 34,000~44,000 lbs thrust will weigh more, be bigger and and have worse thrust specific fuel consumption than a single engine aircraft with the same thrust. Performance, packaging and economy wise, a single F-135/136 wins hands down compared to two F414s, EJ200s or M88s.

The Koreans have realistically two practical 5th generation choice. Buy the F-35 or do an F-35 derivative optimized for whatever parameter they desire -- be it higher speeds, greater range, bigger payload, or whatever. The later can be accomplished by changing the wing planform, changing out the engine and/or adding fuselage plugs. The F-35 also comes with the best sensor package you can currently get from anyone at any price -- APG-81+EOTS+DAS+EWS will outperform any Typhoon, Rafale, F-18 or domestic derived sensor package
 
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SlowMan       5/12/2009 3:17:34 PM
 
KFX is given the green light.
 
- Boeing is said to be most aggressive in seeking to be the KFX partner and is offering an "Ultra" Hornet as bases for modification.
- A new airframe based on Super Hornet.
- Twin Engine
- Internal weapon bay
- Korean AESA rader based on ELTA core technology
- Korean Fire Control System(Which was designed to be compatible with ELTA radars).
- Korean Mission Computer
- Unknown FWB control
- Engine thrust of  32,000 lbs minimum(Engine may be multi-supplier in case the non-Korean customer cannot get the new high power F414 variant that Boeing is pushing to US Navy and KFX project).
- First one will be rolling out in 2018.

I am not sure if this is good or bad for Boeing's quest to sell F-15SE to Korean Airforce as the first customer. It could be that Korean government decided to keep buying F-15SE until 2018 in exchange for Boeing's participation in KFX project. F-35A is now definitely out of picture in Korea, at least for the Airforce(F-35B might still have a chance for assault carriers)
 
I do believe Boeing's participation is in good faith, since KFX is basically Boeing's last chance at staying in fighter business.
 
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JFKY    2018?   5/12/2009 3:50:29 PM
This is all going to happen in six years? Ok, if you say so...it may happen but I'm bet'n that the first one won't roll out in 2018...if by first one to roll out in 2018 to be anything other than a demonstrator that may or may not fly.
 
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SlowMan       5/12/2009 4:39:38 PM

This is all going to happen in six years? Ok, if you say so...it may happen but I'm bet'n that the first one won't roll out in 2018...if by first one to roll out in 2018 to be anything other than a demonstrator that may or may not fly.

Yup. T-50 was rolled out in 5 years, so the 2018 roll out date actually sounds feasible given how fast Koreans develop things. Based on what's proposed, Super Hornet would be further reshaped to reduce RCS, and weapons bay and external pods would be internalized. This is a complete airframe overhaul and not a retrofit like F-15SE.
 
So what's in it for Boeing? For Boeing, they need some kind of "Ultra" Hornet to stay in fighter business, and take an aim at potential US Navy sales in case F-35C runs into trouble/cost-overruns. As proposed, KFX would have greater thrust(estimated from twin upgraded F414) and longer range than F-35C, and probably cheaper than F-35C in 2020. However, Boeing cannot do "Ultra" Hornet alone, but things change with a foreign government willing to foot the majority of bills.
 
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SlowMan       5/12/2009 4:44:10 PM

This is all going to happen in six years? Ok, if you say so...it may happen but I'm bet'n that the first one won't roll out in 2018...if by first one to roll out in 2018 to be anything other than a demonstrator that may or may not fly.

Yup. T-50 was rolled out in 5 years, so the 2018 roll out date actually sounds feasible given how fast Koreans develop things. Based on what's proposed, Super Hornet would be further reshaped to reduce RCS, and weapons bay and external pods would be internalized. This is a complete airframe overhaul and not a retrofit like F-15SE.
 
So what's in it for Boeing? For Boeing, they need some kind of "Ultra" Hornet to stay in fighter business, and take an aim at potential US Navy sales in case F-35C runs into trouble/cost-overruns. As proposed, KFX would have greater thrust(estimated from twin upgraded F414) and longer range than F-35C, and probably cheaper than F-35C in 2020. However, Boeing cannot do "Ultra" Hornet alone, but things change with a foreign government willing to foot the majority of bills.
 
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Photon       5/12/2009 11:05:10 PM

On the other hand, though, if they are sensible and rely heavily on off-the-shelf equipment, the costs could be manageable - e.g. Typhoon's radar and engines, weapons systems from something else, and other parts from something else. This may lead to a Frankenstein's Monster of an aircraft, but the approach can work. If they keep it simple, and set the bar low enough, then it may produce a good, affordable next generation fighter. If, on the other hand, they try to set the bar too high, it will end up costing the earth, and probably end up not being worthwhile.


I think the coloured portion of the paragraph is the key.  I think the S. Koreans should take a lesson from Saab Grifen.  The Swedes more or less stuck to their goals and needs, instead of wasting needlessly to come up with a 'hyper-fighter'.  If, instead, had the Swedes tried to become too ambitious, they would have run into the kind of constipation that has plagued Rafale, F-35, and to a lesser extent, Eurofighter Typhoon.  They were not aiming to carve out a large fighter market segment for themselves:  The world fighter market is already saturated as hell, and they knew it and acted accordingly.
 
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SlowMan       5/13/2009 10:12:03 AM

I think the S. Koreans should take a lesson from Saab Grifen.
This is what Saab offered to Korean government for KFX; an all new twin engine long range RCS reduced fighter bigger than Rafale and Eurofighter, not a Gripen. Why? Because Gripen wouldn't cut it in a high-tension East Asian atmosphere.
 
http://img300.imageshack.us/img300/3179/ksaab78zx0.jpg" alt="" />
http://img120.imageshack.us/img120/5893/ksaab108fi8.jpg" alt="" />
 
Whatever Boeing is proposing to Korean government, it is to F-35 what F/A-18 was to F-16, a longer range fighter capable of supercruise with more payload.
 
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