Discussions regarding an indigenous fifth generation fighter jet have been swirling around the halls of Korean government, military and industry ever since President Kim Dae-jung blabbed about it way back in 2001 at some Air Force cadet graduation ceremony. 13 years later, it’s still mostly talk. Sure, we got a few scale mock-ups, drawings, etc. We may have some “just for shits and giggles” nascent technical drawings someplace too.
According to DefenseNews, here is the latest:
The state-funded Agency for Defense Development (ADD) has long studied a twin-engine concept, either of the C103 design that looks somewhat like the F-35 or the C203 design following the European approach and using forward canards in a stealth-shaped airframe.
Both of the twin-engine platforms would be powered by two 18,000-pound engines, ADD officials said.
Korea Aerospace Industries, on the other hand, prefers a single-engine concept, dubbed C501, which is to be built based on the FA-50, a light attack aircraft version of the T-50 supersonic trainer jet co-produced by Lockheed Martin.
The C501, powered by a 29,000-pound engine, is designed to be fitted with a limited low-observable configuration and advanced avionics.
Ah, the C501 vs. the C103. The choices that a medium sized country with a limited aerospace budget has when it comes to developing stealth. C103 will be the hard way and very expensive, but tempting for those who want to have a jet that can be spoken in the same breath as China’s J-20, Russia’s T-50 or America’s F-35. The C501 is the easier way and more realistic for a country that doesn’t have unlimited fighter development budgets. It will, however, create what may be just a stealthy, but up engined, version of an FA-50, with limited stores for weapons or future upgrades.