An employee assembles an airplane engine at a GE plant in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. GE is seeking to supply its F414-GE-400 engine for Korea's next-generation indigenous fighter jets. (photo : GE Korea)
General Electric (GE) wants to supply state-of-the-art aircraft engines for Korea's next-generation indigenous fighter jet program.
The world's leading infrastructure and technology firm plans to offer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), a preferred bidder for the Korean Fighter experimental (KF-X) program, to use its F414-GE-400 engine.
The F414 has been selected to power fighter jets in six countries ― Australia, Brazil, India, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
It is used in the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, Saab Gripen NG and Tejas Light Combat Aircraft Mark II. More than 1,200 F414 engines have been sold around the globe, according to GE.
"GE is a proud, long-term supporter of Korea's aviation industry. We now want to be part of the KF-X program," GE Korea CEO Chris Khang said. "We are ready to offer the most capable and competitive engine solutions with F414, a proven platform with the latest technology and a strong track record of reliability and operability that KF-X requires."
Khang said GE will also transfer its manufacturing technology, as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul capabilities, if it is chosen to work with KAI.
"We are confident that we have done much more localization in Korea than any competitors," he said. "We have purchased a wide range of core components from our Korean partners, worth over $200 million. This proves our strong commitment to the development of the country's aviation industry."
One of the important factors for KF-X program's success was the exportability of the fighter jet, Khang said, adding that GE supported KAI's T-50 and FA-50 export programs to Indonesia, Iraq and the Philippines.
"We have been supporting KAI's export programs for the two aircraft and the Surion helicopter," he said. "With GE's strong global network and technology leadership, we will continue to play a key role in facilitating Korea's efforts to sell its next-generation aircraft abroad."
The $7.7 billion KF-X program to build F-16 plus class jets with the help of global defense contractors, including GE, will replace the Air Force's aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s. KAI will provide 120 twin-engine aircraft for the Air Force by 2032.
For the past 35 years, GE has been collaborating with the defense ministry and private aviation companies here.
More than 1,300 GE engines power 600 aircraft and ships operated by the Korean military, including F110 and F404 engines for fixed-wing fighter aircraft, T700 and CT7 engines for rotorcraft and turboprop airplanes, and LM500/LM2500 engines for naval vessels.