About S. Korea to Upgrade KF-16 Fighter Jets
|May 2nd, 2009||#1|
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S. Korea to Upgrade KF-16 Fighter Jets info
By Jung Sung-ki
The South Korean Air Force is looking to upgrade the radar and armament systems of its KF-16 fleet in an effort to boost the country's air defense capability, a military source said Friday.
The plan, part of the 2010-2014 arms acquisition and management package, will be reported to President Lee Myung-bak soon for final approval, the source told The Korea Times.
The Air Force is operating about 135 U.S. Lockheed Martin-built KF-16 fighters, which were purchased from the United States or built locally under a $5.5-billion licensing agreement between 1994 and 2004. The KF-16 is the local designation for the F-16C/D model of the Fighting Falcon.
The service is now considering installing the Israel-made EL/M-2032 radar on the aircraft, the source said. The advanced mechanically scanned array radar, developed by Israel's Elta Systems, is credited with a look-up tracking range of 65 to 100 kilometers and believed to have better simultaneous detection capability than those of the current APG-68(v)5/7 radars.
The Air Force actually wanted the more advanced U.S. active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar but modified the plan due to the U.S. law forbidding the export of state-of-the-art and sensitive weapons systems, he said.
Earlier, for a similar reason the Air Force decided to equip the FA-50 trainer-turned-light attack jet to be developed by 2012 with the Israeli radar. The FA-50 is a modified version of the T-50 supersonic trainer jet built by Korea Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin.
In addition, it is planning to upgrade the KF-16s' computer systems and cabling, in consultation with the United States, to allow the aircraft carry up-to-date precision-guided missiles, such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), AIM-9X tactical air-to-air missiles and GBU-24 laser-guided bombs, according to the source.
The guided missiles, which can be used in neutralizing North Korea's key facilities in case of an emergency, are one of the key missile and bomb systems for South Korea's F-15K fighters.
The KF-16 is the country's main combat aircraft flying with the F-15K fighters built by U.S. Boeing Company. The Air Fore has received 40 F-15Ks and will get 20 more in the coming years.
The KF-16 has a top speed of Mach 2.0 and a combat radius of 546 kilometers. A KF-16 costs about $43 million to produce and more than $720,000 annually to maintain.
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