SOUTH KOREA has delayed, the start of full-scale development of the KTX-II advanced trainer/light combat-aircraft by one year, to allow more time to find international partners for the programme.

The South Korean Government has instead approved a smaller budget to cover initial preparatory work only in 1996. Lead contractor Samsung Aerospace now hopes to receive full funding to launch the programme in 1997.

Preliminary studies under way since 1992, in co-operation with Lockheed Martin, have been completed and the KTX-II's basic design frozen. Engineering data and personnel are being moved from Fort Worth to South Korea.

This year's funding will be used to continue with work on programme sub-systems, such as landing gear and avionics. South Korea's Agency for Defence Development (ADD) is understood to be drawing up requests for proposals (RFP) for a range of avionics.

RFPs are understood to include the supply of the aircraft's radar, mission computer, head-up display, inertial-navigation system and multi-function displays. Major avionic manufacturers expected to respond include Fiar, GEC-Marconi, Litton, Lockheed Martin, Rockwell-Collins, Sextant and Westinghouse.

A Government go-ahead for the KTX-II in 1997 will likely hinge on finding foreign partners to share the estimated $1.5 billion-$2 billion development cost, as well as boosting aircraft production numbers.

Lockheed Martin has discussed taking a 20% stake in the programme, but has made its investment conditional on a minimum of 300-400 aircraft being produced. The ADD and Samsung have held collaboration talks with South Africa's Atlas Aircraft, CASA, Daimler-Benz and Sukhoi (Flight International, 20 December, 1995-2 January).

According to South Korean air force and industry sources, Samsung plans to present new proposals to the Government before the end of March. Government officials would then be expected to respond by mid-year, with final approval for full-scale development to follow by the end of 1996.

Samsung is lobbying strongly for Government support for the KTX-I to sustain future production at its main Sacheon plant. The company will face a shortfall of work by 1999, with the completion of licensed production of the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D.

Source: Flight International