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KF-X Next Generation Fighter - Radar

The FA-50 might initially be equipped with the EL/M-2032 radar from Israel's Elta Systems. DAPA originally wanted to equip the FA-50 with the lightweight Vixen-500E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar developed by UK firm Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems. Lockheed had been pushing Seoul to select its own AN/APG-67(V)4 radar. Under the agreement with then-General Dynamics signed in the 1990s, the FA-50's combat capability had to remain below that of the F-16, to avoid competition.

On 20 April 2016, the defense unit of conglomerate Hanwha Group was picked as the preferred bidder to build active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars for some 120 fighter jets that South Korea seeks to develop by the mid-2020s. Korea was originally planned to acquire AESA radar technology from U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin, but the plan foundered in 2015 after the US Fovernment rejected for security reasons the firm's request to transfer four core technologies involving F-35 fighter jets ? infrared search and track, electronic optics targeting pod, radio frequency jammer and AESA radar to Korea.

Hanwha Thales trumped its rival LIG Nex1 Co., which had also been vying for the spot and was now next in line for negotiations. The Agency for Defense Development [ADD] commenced negotiations with Hanwha Thales and is slated to ink a deal in June 2016. “The technological capacities and the cost efficiency were the two main categories in selecting the priority negotiation partner, along with security and cooperation with small and medium enterprises,” said an ADD official.

Hanwha Thales, set to clinch the final contract with ADD, planned to produce the first prototype of the radar by June 2017 and another one by the following year if the radar worked as planned. Signals from AESA radars are spread out across a band of frequencies and are difficult to detect over background noise, making it less susceptible to detection. This allows the ships or aircrafts to remain stealthy while sending out radar signals.

In August 2016 the state-run Agency for Defense Development(ADD) launched a project to develop an advanced radar system to be placed on the country’s indigenous fighter jets. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration(DAPA) said that the ADD held a related meeting on Wednesday at its headquarters in Daejeon to mark the launch of the process to develop the active electronically scanned array(AESA) radars for some 120 KF-X fighter jets. The ADD said that it plans to produce the first prototype of the AESA radar system by the second half of 2020. It said that starting in 2021, the radar system will undergo a five-year test run after being mounted onto the KF-X. The ADD plans to complete the development project by 2026. The South Korean military decided to develop the AESA radar system on its own as the United States refused to transfer core technologies related to the fighter jet, including the advanced radar, in April 2015.

This is the first time a radarsystem of this caliber is being developed in Korea, so we will need to bring in some foreign technologies. If the radar development does not meet technical standards despite being near completion, we will need to purchase the radar from other countries. The AESA radar is less vulnerable to enemy jamming attempts and it will be able to detect up to 20 fighter jets at once. Moreover, unlike previous radars operated by the Korean Air Force, the AESA can also detect simultaneously enemy ground vehicles and warships.

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Page last modified: 29-11-2018 18:52:13 ZULU