South Korea signals AESA progression
South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has signalled progression in its programme to develop an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system in collaboration with local industry.
DAPA said in a statement on 31 May that its radar programme – intended to support the Korean Fighter Experimental (KFX) aircraft – has completed a two-year preliminary design phase and will now move to the critical design stage before a design review in May 2019.
Following the design review, DAPA hopes to produce a pilot prototype in 2020, which will be installed on early prototypes of the KFX from 2022. After several years of trials, DAPA aims to start initial production of both the aircraft and its AESA radar from the mid-2020s.
Under a KRW360 billion (USD334 million) contract awarded in mid-2016, the AESA development programme is led by Hanwha Systems, which is collaborating with the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), a DAPA subsidiary. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), as lead developer of the KFX, is also involved in the programme.
KAI has previously outlined a target to produce about 250 twin-engine KFX fighter aircraft to replace the Republic of Korea Air Force’s (RoKAF’s) F-4E Phantom and F-5E Tiger II aircraft and, ultimately, its F-16 Fighting Falcon platforms. KAI also expects to export several hundred KFX fighters.
We have the lead over the South Koreans in this area. But it will interesting to see who gets an AESA radar into production first. Uttam AESA was apparently integrated with one of the LSPs some weeks ago. Now to see extensive flight testing, validation and debugging of the radar, with it hopefully going into production for the second or third batch of the Tejas Mk1A and for all batches of the Tejas Mk2 and the AMCA TDs.