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(LEAD) S. Korea unveils prototype of advanced AESA radar for indigenous fighter jet

All News 16:14 August 07, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 4-8, photo)
By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has produced a prototype of an advanced radar system for its indigenous fighter jet under development, the arms procurement agency said Friday.

The active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system has been under development since 2016 by the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) as a key part of the envisioned KF-X fighter aircraft.

Dubbed the eyes of the aircraft, the AESA radar system can detect and track multiple targets simultaneously and extensively, as the beam of radio waves is electronically steered to a point in different directions without moving the antenna, according to the ADD.

This photo, provided by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), shows South Korea's indigenous active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, whose prototype was unveiled on Aug. 7, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The prototype will be installed on a mock-up of the jet this year and go through other due procedures, such as the systems integration and flight tests, until 2026, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

"We need to develop software for this gadget, which will be a quite challenging task. We will zero in on it by making the best use of our experience in making other types of radar," an ADD official said.

The new radar is comparable with those made by the United States and China, the official said, adding that it is expected to be applied to other weapons systems such as FA-50 fighters and vessels down the road.

"There has been skepticism about whether it could be developed successfully at home without technology transfer from overseas, but we finally made it," DAPA official Choi Ho-cheon said during a ceremony to mark the release of the prototype.

The U.S. reportedly refused to transfer related technologies in 2015, prompting South Korea to initiate the development on its own.

"I expect the radar and the fighter aircraft to be highly competitive in the global market," Choi added.

South Korea launched the 8.8 trillion won (US$7.43 billion) KF-X project in 2016 to develop the home-grown fighter jet by 2026 to replace the country's aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 aircraft.

The indigenous jet is designed to be able to fly at a maximum speed of Mach 1.81, with its flying range reaching 2,900 kilometers. It bears outward similarities to the fifth-generation F-35A, according to the Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI) in charge of the project.

With a maximum payload of 7,700 kilograms, the fighter is capable of installing 10 pods for missiles and fuel barrels. It will be able to carry several types of air-to-air missiles, such as Germany's IRIS-T and European developer MBDA's active radar guided Meteor missiles, it added.

This pool photo shows an official operating the newly developed indigenous active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for South Korea's envisioned KF-X fighter jet at a lab of Hanwha Systems in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, on Aug. 7, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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