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Could South Korea Go It Alone?
By Harold Hutchison

South Korea had begun development of a fighter that could ultimately be on par with the F-35, with plans to start deploying it by 2023. This comes as the KA-50 is

According to a report by DefenseNews.com, South Korea has begun the KF-X project. The project is intended to provide about 120 airframes to replace a total of 169 F-16 and KF-16 Fighting Falcons. The indigenous design is apparently intended to supplement anywhere from 40 to 60 F-35A Lightning II fighters, which South Korea selected in 2013. However, the KF-X project may also be a hedge against problems with the F-35.

Aviation author Barrett Tillman noted that “it would make far more sense for Korea to throw in with Japan et al on a stealth fighter jet rather than go it alone. Stealth costs as you know are of Olympian height with just about 0.00 ability to control. F-35 of course is way late, way over budget, and has yet to begin matching any of the brochure claims.”

The F-35 managed to avoid being targeted in Obama’s latest round of defense cuts, largely due to the number of states that take part in the project. The South Koreans have developed the KA-50, a light attack plane that is seeing service with South Korea and Indonesia, and which will also equip the Iraqi and Philippine Air Forces.

Tillman added, “Maybe the ROKs can manage a stealth program better than we can, but I keep remembering Sir Sidney Camm's famous statement that there are four aspects of a military aeroplane: length, span, height...and politics.”