Hanwha Techwin, a defense unit of Hanwha Group, has teamed up with U.S.-based GE Aviation, one of the world’s top three aircraft engine suppliers, to jointly develop engine parts for Korea’s flight-jet development project KF-X.
The company announced on July 13 that it has signed the partnership deal with GE at the Farnborough International Airshow held in the U.K. on the 12th (local time). The aircraft engine production industry has high barriers to entry. Currently, GE, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce are considered the world’s top three aircraft engine producers.
Hanwha Techwin said, “With the latest deal, we are now able to lead the integration and installation of the engines into the KF-X jets and domestically assemble and produce the engines and major parts. Based on these, we can also support flight test smoothly during the system development period.”
GE suggested “F414-GE-400” as the engine for the KF-X jets and was selected as the preferred bidder for the project in May. The engine has with 21,500 pounds of thrust and the KF-X is a twin-engine jet. Hanwha Techwin will receive the engine, which is designed and manufactured by GE, and assemble it. It will also produce and supply major parts and localize the technology to install and operate the engine into fighter jets.
The KF-X project is the largest defense project in South Korean history to develop Korean fighter jets replacing its aged fleet of F-4 and F-5 fighters. It is expected to be completed by 2026. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) manages the project and Hanwha Techwin is in charge of developing the engines. The size of the KF-X engine business will be worth more than 4 trillion won (US$3.49 billion) – 300 billion won (US$261.67 million) for the system development, 1.8 trillion won (US$1.57 billion) for shipments of mass production and 2 trillion won (US$1.74 billion) for exports and follow-up support projects.
Hanwha Techwin is a major engine supplier of various Korean fighter jets and helicopters. With the technical partnership with GE in 1980, the company began production of the engines for the F-5 jets and was selected as the final assembly company for the KF-16 jets in 1986.