Andrzej Jeziorski/SINGAPORE Lockheed Martin
has provided Japan and South Korea with a technology boost by partnering on key aircraft programmes
Japan and South Korea, two of the most significant aerospace industrial nations in the Asia-Pacific region, are pressing ahead with combat aircraft programmes that bring in new US technology via partnerships with Lockheed Martin.
Japan is developing the Mitsubishi F-2A/B, a development of the F-16C/D which was selected in October 1987 to replace the ageing Mitsubishi F-1 support fighter. Initial airframe design contracts were awarded in 1989.
The F-2 differs from the F-16 in having a new composite wing with greater span and root chord, and 25% more surface area. It has two additional hardpoints as well as forward-swept trailing edges. The aircraft's aft fuselage has been stretched compared with the F-16's, and the radome is larger to accommodate a new Mitsubishi Electric active phased-array radar.
The digital flight control system and inertial reference system come from Japan Aviation Electronics and AlliedSignal. Yokogawa is supplying multi-function displays and Shimadzu the holographic head-up display. The aircraft's electronic warfare systems are being developed by Mitsubishi Electric.
The programme was delayed by workshare and technology transfer disputes between Japan and the USA, but agreement was reached to place 40% by cost of the development and production work in the USA, with the rest staying in Japan. General Dynamics, which later became Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems (LMTAS), was subcontracted to build the aircraft's right-hand wingbox, rear fuselage, leading-edge flaps, some avionics and computer-based test equipment.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is the prime contractor, with Kawasaki Heavy Industries subcontracted to build the centre fuselage. Fuji Heavy Industries is responsible for right-hand wingboxes and other wing elements, as well as the engine intake, radome and vertical and horizontal stabilisers. Final assembly is at MHI's Komaki South plant in Nagoya.
The programme involves four flying XF-2 prototypes - two single-seaters and a pair of two-seat trainers - the first of which was rolled out in January 1995 and began flying in October that year. The fourth prototype had its maiden flight on 24 May, 1996, five months after approval of the full 130-aircraft programme.
The Japanese-US production workshare was confirmed in an inter-governmental memorandum of understanding in July 1996, after negotiations between Washington and Tokyo which the US Defense Security Assistance Agency. This was followed by approval from the US Congress for US industrial participation in September 1996.
Lockheed Martin handed over the first production aft fuselage for the F-2 to MHI last November. Earlier in 1998, the programme had suffered a nine-month delay because ground load testing showed excessive flutter and structural cracking in the wing, requiring structural reinforcement and more testing. Production deliveries to the Japan Defence Agency are to begin in early 2000, continuing after 2010.
South Korea's flagship combat aircraft programme is the KTX-2, a supersonic advanced jet trainer, fighter lead-in trainer and light combat aircraft. The programme was given the go-ahead by the Seoul Government in July1997, sidelining a rival bid from the former Daimler-Benz Aerospace (now DaimlerChrysler Aerospace) in partnership with Hyundai, proposing the AT-2000, since renamed Mako.
The KTX-2 programme began in 1992, with LMTAS providing initial design assistance as part of its offset package for the Korean Fighter Programme, which involves co-production of F-16s for the South Korean air force. The KTX-2's basic design was frozen in 1995, and a formal risk-sharing agreement to proceed with development up to 2005 was signed with Lockheed Martin in September 1997.
The South Korean Government is funding 70% of the programme, with a further 17% coming from Samsung Aerospace and 13% from Lockheed Martin.
The US manufacturer is responsible for developing the aircraft's wing, flight control system and avionics at its Fort Worth facility. "LMTAS will also provide technical expertise to Samsung on all aspects of the KTX-2 programme in South Korea," says the company.
Samsung is building the front fuselage and carrying out final assembly of the aircraft, with the centre fuselage subcontracted to Daewoo and the rear fuselage and tail unit to Korean Air.
The $1.27 billion full-scale development contract, signed in October 1997, calls for two static test airframes and four flying prototypes, with flight testing to start in June 2002. Production aircraft deliveries are to begin in 2005, running to 2009, but this may yet be stretched by South Korea's economic crisis.
The South Korean air force has ordered 94 aircraft and holds options on 100 more. Lockheed Martin may offer the type to the US Air Force as a replacement for the Northrop T-38 supersonic trainer, and the overall export potential is estimated at 600 to 800 aircraft.
The partners signed a memorandum in October to form a joint team, dividing responsibility for marketing the KTX-2 for export.
Samsung is responsible for indigenous business, working with the South Korean government to put the KTX-2 on agendas in talks with foreign governments. Lockheed Martin will work with the US Government to develop any potential US requirement and gain approval for third country sales.