August 22, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) completed deploying its KF-16 fighter jets last friday to wrap up a $5.5 billion project launched 13 years ago. Korea Aerospace Industries sent the 140th and last KF-16 from its Sacheon plant.
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is a joint venture formed between Korea's three leading aircraft makers - Samsung Aerospace, Daewoo Heavy Industries, and Hyundai Space and Aircraft.
The KF-16 is a local designation for the F-16C/D model of the Fighting Falcon. The RoKAF
was the first foreign operator of that model.
The project, the largest ever undertaken by the Korean aviation industry, manufactured 120 fighters in its first phase in 2002 and an additional 20 aircraft in 2003.
The Air Force said it could make big savings on maintenance since it had developed domestic technology to produce about 78 percent of the components.
The project upgraded Korea's aerospace industry, and the acquired technology will help them develop the T-50, a high-caliber trainer and light combat aircraft.