The South Korean Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has reportedly signed a KF-X domestic fighter jet development programme contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).
Under the terms of the agreement, KIA will develop an indigenous fighter jet with technological assistance from Lockheed Martin to replace the Republic of Korea Air Force's (ROKAF) aging fleet of F-4D / E Phantom II and F-5E / F Tiger II fighters.
The contract will see KIA develop six test planes including the completion of system development for the jets by June 2026, reported The Korea Times.
Valued at KRW8.5trn ($7.64bn), the KF-X programme is aimed at producing 120 fighter jets by 2032.
DAPA spokesman colonel Kim Si-cheol was quoted by the publication as saying: "We estimate 10.5 years for system development for the KF-X.
"The project is expected to be completed by the first half of the year 2026 and the production process will be able to start from the second half of that year."
The engine provider for the fighter jets as well as the work on their design and component production is yet to be confirmed.
The South Korean Government is set to fund 60% of the development costs, while the remaining 40% of funding is expected to be shared by the winning team and Indonesia, which is participating in the project as part of a bilateral defence treaty signed with the country.