KFX fighter (photo : alzard)
South Korea plans to pick an engine provider for its indigenous fighter jet project as early as this month, an official at the country's sole aircraft maker said Tuesday.
European engine maker Eurojet Turbo GmbH and U.S. company General Electric are vying to become the supplier for the engines of the next generation combat planes to be built under the Korean Fighter Experimental program, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. said.
"We are in talks with the two companies to select an engine provider for the KF-X project," said a KAI official. "An engine provider will be selected as early as this month."
South Korea is seeking to locally produce 120 twin-engine combat jets under the KF-X program that is estimated to cost some 18 trillion won ($16 billion). Seoul aims to deploy the new planes starting in mid-2020 to replace its aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s.
The country's state arms procurement agency said it plans to finalize the basic designs for the plane by September next year and come up with a detailed design by January 2019.
The KF-X project has gained a boost from the U.S. pledge to transfer some of its jet technologies. But Seoul is facing the challenge of finding an alternative as Washington made it clear that four core technologies will be excluded.