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The South Korean armed forces have quashed an attempt by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to reduce the cost and technical challenge of the proposed KF-X fighter, with the joint chiefs of staff determining that the indigenous aircraft must have two engines.
The decision raises the stakes for KF-X, the earliest prospective fighter program for Western engine and system suppliers. With a twin-engine design, the program will be ambitious and hard to launch rather than something modest with a more assured future.
South Korea’s air force is already hedging its bets by studying the possibility of importing its next batch of fighters, judging that the KF-X is not likely to go into full-scale development, according to an air force officer quoted by the Segye newspaper in May (AW&ST June 2, p. 29).