Lockheed Martin is helping Samsung Aerospace to design and develop the KTX-2 light combat aircraft/advanced trainer with a view to offering a version to the US Air Force to meet its future Bomber Fighter Training System (BFTS) requirement.

The BFTS programme will provide the USAF with an eventual replacement for its fleet of upgraded Northrop Grumman T-38 trainers in the period around 2010-12. "The KTX-2 is specifically designed to meet that requirement as well as that of South Korea," says Lockheed Martin programme director Royce Lummus.

He adds that the USAF's Air Education and Training Command has already provided advice on its perceived training needs early in the 21st century. The intention is to provide a flexible pilot-training platform from the advanced stage through to lead-in to the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22.

As a "total training system", it will be required to provide a cost-efficient and integrated approach to training, offering commonality with operational fighter types and ground-based simulator and syllabuses. The trainer's fly-by-wire flight controls will have to be programmed to provide variable control laws for different levels of difficulty.

The tandem-seat aircraft is also being designed for a light-combat role, suitable as a replacement for aircraft such as the Cessna T-37, McDonnell Douglas A-4 attack aircraft and NorthropF-5 fighter.

"We see a need for a substantial number of both light combat and trainer aircraft," says Lummus, who predicts sales of 800 aircraft over the next 20 years.

Lockheed Martin has set a target unit price of $15-16 million for the light-combat variant and $12-14 million for the advanced trainer. Under a teaming deal with prime contractor Samsung, the US company will take responsibility for integrating and developing the KTX-2's avionics system, flight controls and aluminium wing.

South Korea, meanwhile, has chosen a version of the General Electric F404-402 engine over the rival Snecma M88-2 to power the KTX-2. GE has been awarded a $50 million contract to develop and deliver six turbofans for flight testing of four single-engined prototypes starting in 2001. It will have added redundancy and a new control system, including full-authority digital electronic control.

The initial production batch of 104 F404 engines to power the first 94 KTX-2s will be co-produced in South Korea by Samsung starting in 2004, with up to 40% local content. South Korea has the option to order a second batch of 100 aircraft, extending production through to 2020.

Source: Flight International