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 Saber, F104 Starfighter, F16). Surprisingly, for nearly 30 years, Great Britain and France seem to have definitely turned to the medium and heavy fighter market, with the Tornado, Typhoon and Tempest on one side, and the Rafale and SCAF on the other. The same goes for the United States, which are content to modernize the F16 platform which however continues to prance at the head of sales in the world, but which does not envisage the development of any real replacement for the time being. , the F35 evolving structurally and financially 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.
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 17 m long and 12 m wingspan aircraft will have a maximum takeoff weight of 25 tonnes, the same as that of the French Rafale, and will replace the F4 phantom II and the F5 Tiger still in service in the forces. South Korean aerials. 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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