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GE delivers first engine for South Korea's KF-X aircraft

Flight tests on the new twin-engine fighter will begin in 2023

GE Aviation has announced in these hours that it has delivered the first F414-GE-400K engine to Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the new generation South Korean indigenous fighter known as KF-X. Developed for the Air Force of the Republic of Korea (ROKAF), the KF-X with F414 engine will offer significantly greater mission capability, an extended combat range and a longer lifespan than current aircraft.

"We are thrilled to have achieved this milestone in the KF-X program", said Al DiLibero, general manager of the GE department for combat aircraft engines and medium training. KAI had selected GE engines for its new fighter in May 2016. The KF-X multirole aircraft is a USD 7.4 billion program, designed and built by KAI. The airplane will replace the F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II currently in the fleet with the Nation's Air Force. The development program is expected to be completed in 2026, and includes 15 flight tests with F414 engines on six fighter prototypes which are expected to be completed by 2021. Flight tests will be carried out in 2023. Once series production has started, the The industry will "churn out" 120 units of the model destined for service in the South Korean Armed Forces. GE Aviation will supply KAI with 240 F414 engines and related spare parts.

The two industries are not new to military aircraft collaborations: GE's F404 engines currently power the Seoul Golden Eagle T-50, an advanced single-engine trainer developed thanks to a joint-venture between South Korea and the United States (it was designed by KAI in partnership with Lockheed Martin). Additionally, the T700 turboshafts power the South Korean Surion helicopter, and the F110s the Rokaf's F-15K plane.

The F414 engine entered service in 1998 and has flown more than 4.6 million flight hours; over 1750 units were delivered. In addition to the KF-X, the F414 powers the Boeing Super Hornet F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Growler, Saab's JAS 39E/F Gripen, India's Tejas Mark 2, and the X -59 Quiet Supersonic Transport of NASA according to GE declares it.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency