CINCINNATI, OH – On May 26, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) selected GE Aviation as the preferred bidder to supply F414 engines for its next-generation indigenous fighter, known as the KF-X.
In a statement, DAPA said GE Aviation scored highest in all four main criteria for the contract: technology, costs, localization and management. The F414-GE-400-powered KF-X will deliver significantly greater mission capability, extended combat radius and longer lifespan compared to current aircraft.
“GE is pleased to be selected as the preferred engine partner for KF-X,” said Jean Lydon-Rodgers, vice president and general manager of GE Aviation’s Military Systems Operation. “Securing this advanced aircraft application feeds into the F414’s already-vast experience powering United States and international militaries, creating opportunities for greater F414 technology enhancements throughout the life of the program.”
The multi-role KF-X aircraft will be designed and built by Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI), which partners with Lockheed Martin Corp. to develop the $7.4 billion project. The KF-X aircraft will replace Korea’s F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II fleet. The development program is scheduled to be completed in 2026, which includes the production of six prototype fighters by 2021. During the production phase, 120 KF-X aircraft are slated for production serving the South Korean and Indonesian armed forces, helping extend planned F414 engine production through 2032.
The F414 engine continues to be enthusiastically received throughout the global defense community. In addition to the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, variants of the F414 engine have been selected to power the Mk2 version of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft in India and the Saab Gripen E aircraft.
F414 development history
In 1991, GE began studies to develop an engine for an upgraded F/A-18—which was then powered by GE’s F404 engine—with increased range and operational capability. In 1998, the F414 entered service, delivering 25% more thrust by combining the engine core (compressor, combustor, high-pressure turbine) of GE’s F412 with an enhanced low pressure system . The F414 engine is rated at 22,000 pounds (98 kN) thrust and is in the 9:1 thrust-to-weight ratio class.
GE is pursuing development of the F414 Enhanced Engine variant, which incorporates an increased flow, all-blisk fan, new 6-stage high-pressure compressor and improved turbine capability. With the support of the United States Navy, multiple rig and ground engine tests have been completed. Benefits of the Enhanced Engine include: 20% thrust growth, reduced fuel burn and increased bleed and horsepower extraction to support additional aircraft requirements.
In 2006, Saab selected a modified F414 to add range and other advanced capabilities to their new Gripen E. The Gripen E will power 60 aircraft for Sweden and 36 aircraft for Brazil. The production Gripen E is powered by the F414-39E derivative of the F414. GE delivered its first F414 engines for the Saab Gripen E fighter, which rolled out on May 18, 2016. The Saab Gripen E will make its first flight before the end of 2016, according to Saab. Initial operational capability is planned for 2021.
In October 2010, the F414-INS6 derivative of the F414 was selected to power India’s LCA Mk2 aircraft. First engine to test occurred in 2014. India expects to purchase up to 99 installed engines.
In December 2014, GE successfully tested the world’s first non-static set of light-weight, ceramic matrix composite (CMC) parts by running rotating low-pressure turbine blades for 500 endurance cycles in a F414 turbofan demonstrator engine designed to further validate the heat-resistant material for high-stress operation in GE’s next-generation Adaptive Engine Technology Demonstrator (AETD) program, currently in development with the United States Air Force Research Lab (AFRL).
In June 2015, GE Aviation delivered its 1,500th F414 engine and surpassed more than 3 million flight hours powering the United States Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft.
GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), is a world-leading provider of jet, turboshaft and turboprop engines, components and integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings.