South Korea is moving rapidly into the demonstrator phase for a stealth combat unmanned aircraft that it does not expect to field until late in the next decade.
With the KAI, the defence ministry‚Äôs designers have chosen a configuration much like those of proposed Western aircraft. Western countries such as the US, Britain and France are, like South Korea, still studying such aircraft, with varying degrees of seriousness. So Korea, with an aerospace sector that has never built a manned combat aircraft, is already seeking to enter into the first rank in the unmanned field. And it is doing this while separately pursuing a programme for a stealth manned fighter called KF-X.
The project is being pursued by the ambitious Agency for Defense Development, for decades the home of much of the country‚Äôs most advanced talent in aerospace technology. Both the KF-X and the combat unmanned aircraft programme are at a stage at which design engineers are laying the groundwork, knowing that the military could use their proposed product and hoping that parliament will pay for full-scale development.
Korean Air Aerospace has won a contract to build an unmanned combat aircraft demonstrator and should begin flight testing in 2013.