Will Japan, South Korea and Turkey capture the 5G medium fighter market?

Since the end of the Second World War, 3 countries have traditionally shared the market for light fighters in the West: Great Britain (Vampire, Gnat, Harrier), France (Mystère IV, Mirage III/F1/2000, Super- standard) and the United States (F86 Sabre, F104 Starfighter, F16). Surprisingly, for almost 30 years, Great Britain and France seem to have definitively turned towards the market of medium and heavy fighters, with the Tornado, Typhoon and Tempest on one side, and the Rafale and FCAS on the other. The same goes for the United States, which is content to modernize the F16 platform which nevertheless continues to lead the world in sales, but which is not currently considering the development of any real replacement. , the F35 evolving structurally and budgetarily in the category of medium to heavy fighters, despite its single engine.

This disenchantment with light fighters allowed new players to emerge in this market, such as the Swedish Saab with its JAS 39 Gripen, which succeeded in establishing itself in several international competitions, while Swedish fighter planes traditionally monopolized the purely Scandinavian market. Pakistan, for its part, developed with the help of China the JF17, and has managed, for a few years, to find again export outlets for this powerful, light and affordable device. South Korea, allied with Indonesia, for its part developed the FA-50, a light supersonic fighter derived from its training and attack model. T-50 Golden Eagle, and whose performances go so far as to interest the US Air Force to play the aggressors during training.

gripen e swedish Germany | Defense Analysis | Fighter jets
Swedish Saab's JAS39 Gripen was the last aircraft to present itself directly as an alternative to the American F16, allowing it to record several export successes

But the real revolution could come in the years to come from the arrival of a new generation of hunters positioning themselves in this market and borrowing criteria from the famous “5th generation”, such as stealth and a certain ability to merge data. , and carried by new players in global military aeronautics. The most successful model to date is the K-FX program South Korean, developed by Korean Aeronautical Industry, or KAI, of which the prototype is being finalized near Seoul. The aircraft, 17 m long and 12 meters wide, will have a maximum take-off weight of 25 tonnes, the same as that of the Rafale French, and will replace the F4 Phantom II and F5 Tiger still in service with the South Korean air force. Twin-engine, it takes the physiognomy of the F35 revealing its stealthy character, even if it will certainly not be at the level of the American plane.


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