South Korea has formally abandoned a plan to develop a radar system with its own technology for its KF-X fighter jet program, a government source said Tuesday. As an alternative, the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) recently signed a technology support contract with an Israeli defense firm, according to the source who requested anonymity.
The ADD and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the nation's arms procurement agency, would not reveal the exact size of the contract apparently with Elta, while an industry official said it's worth around 40 billion won (US$35.5 million).
"The ADD, which is in charge of developing an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the KF-X program, signed the agreement on technology support with an Israeli company last month," the source said.
In 2016, the ADD chose Hanwha Thales, a local defense firm, as the preferential bidder for the radar development. Hanhwa beat its domestic rival LIG Nex1 in the controversial competition.
The ADD said earlier it could seek outside help if Hanhwa falters in developing such an advanced radar system for use by South Korea's envisioned fighter jets.
South Korea launched the KF-X project in 2015 with the aim of producing more than 120 cutting-edge fighters to replace its aging jet fleet of F-4s and F-5s.
It plans to pour a total of 18 trillion won (US$16 bn) into the project by 2026, with the production of six prototype jets scheduled to begin in July next year.