The Republic of South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration released a promotional video showing a new twin-engine jet next-generation indigenous KF-21 Boramae (Hawk).
The KF-21 is a multi-role fighter jet and the outcome of the KF-X aircraft development program which has been pursued since 2016. Indonesia has promised to fund 20 percent of the total development cost, or 1.73 trillion won ($1.55 billion), in exchange for 50 planes that will be manufactured there for the Indonesian Air Force, as well as technology transfers.
According to the Republic of Korea Armed Forces Facebook page, the first flight of KF-21 (former KF-X) will take place about a year from now.
A total of 8 prototypes (6 flying & 2 ground testing) will undergo rigorous testings until mass production begins in 2026, with a goal of 40 jets deployed by 2028 and 120 by 2032.
Once operational, the KF-21 jet is expected to be armed with a range of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles — and possibly even air-launched cruise missiles.
The twin-engine fighters will come in single- and two-seat versions, depending on the missions to which they are tasked.
When the Boramae completes its final tests, Korea will be the world’s eighth nation to develop an advanced supersonic jet with its own technology.
According to the government, 719 Korean businesses have participated in the development of the KF-21. About 65 percent of over 30,000 parts used in the prototype aircraft were made in Korea, and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration and the KAI plan to raise this percentage.
The government estimates the project has created 2.1 trillion won in economic effects and 12,000 jobs from 2016 to 2020. When it goes into mass production, 100,000 new jobs will be created and 5.9 trillion won of additional value will be generated, according to the government.
The military said it plans to deploy 40 KF-21 Boramae fighter jets by 2028 and increase the number to 120 by 2032.
It took Lockheed Martin almost 20 years and at least $59.2 billion to develop F-35 fighter jets. KAI, which embarked on the project in January 2016, managed to come up with a prototype in five years with a budget less than one-sixth as big.