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KAI KF-16 Fighting Falcon

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A KF-16 of the Republic of Korea Air Force in flight.

The KAI KF-16 Fighting Falcon is a Korean variant of the F-16C/D Blk.50/52 built by Korean Aerospace Industries under license from Lockheed Martin in the 1990s. The F/A-18 Hornet had originally won the Korea Fighter Program (KFP) competition, but disputes over costs and accusations of bribery led the Korean government to withdraw the award and select the F-16 instead. Designated the KF-16 the first twelve aircraft were delivered to Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) in December 1994 with a total of 140 aircraft being built. Almost 2,500 parts are changed from the original F-16C/D. Originally, the KF-16 was equipped with the F100-PW-229 Improved Performance Engine, ASPJ internal ECM, APG-68(V)7 radar, LANTIRN targeting and navigation system, AMRAAM, HARM, and SLAM anti-ship missile capabilities, and advanced IFF. JDAMs capability was added by ROKAF later on; ROKAF developed the software, successfully carried out 3 tests, and finished pilot training at the end of January 2011. The South Korean JDAMs are equipped with wing kits, which are absent from normal JDAMs, but not from the 2,000 pound JDAM Extended Range kit, which is being developed by Boeing and South Korea. The South Korean F-16s can also employ LIG Nex1's ALQ-200K radar jammer and other locally developed tactical ELINT and EO/IR targeting pods.

In late 2011, Korea kicked off the contest for KF-16's mid-life upgrade, which will incorporate, among others, a new AESA radar. The radar candidates are Northrop Grumman's Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) and Raytheon's RANGR, which won the contract. The variant to which the planes will be improved is reported to be Lockheed Martin's newly developed F-16V. The KF-16 will also be integrated with stealth cruise missiles. The proposed budget for the avionics upgrades and weapons integration of 140 KF-16 planes is $1.04 billion with BAe Systems winning the contract for $1.1 billion. The ROKAF had requested a separate upgrade of its forty F-16C/D Blk.32 in 2009, which would allow the upgraded planes to employ JDAM, AMRAAM, improved data modem, secure voice capabilities, test and support equipment, and other related training and logistics support. The estimated cost of the upgrade was $286 million.


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