South Korea will complete the development of an advanced radar system to be placed on the country's indigenous fighter jets by 2026 that will greatly boost its air-combat capabilities, the state arms procurement agency said Wednesday.
The state-run Agency for Defense Development has begun the process of developing the active electronically scanned array radars for some 120 KF-X fighter jets that South Korea seeks to develop by the mid-2020s, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said. It said a meeting with related officials and experts was held at the ADD's headquarters in Daejeon, 164 kilometers south of Seoul.
"We are planning to produce the first prototypes of the AESA radar system by the second half of 2020. Starting in 2021, the radar system will undergo a five-year-long test run after being mounted onto the KF-X jet before its development project is completed in 2026," a DAPA official said.
South Korea plans to build the new planes under the 18 trillion-won ($15 billion) Korean Fighter Experimental project in a bid to replace its aging jet fleet of F-4s and F-5s.
The 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 and the advanced radar in April last year.
"Based on our accumulated technologies and know-how, we will develop the most optimal type of an AESA radar system that meets the Korean Air Force's operational requirements within the set time period (of now to 2026)," an arms procurement official said.
AESA is a type of phased array radar whose transmitter and receiver functions are composed of numerous small transmit/receive modules. AESA radars have almost instantaneous scanning rates, making them difficult to jam and allowing the aircraft employing the technology to remain stealthy.