On July 19, Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-21 Boramae completed its first flight making South Korea the world’s eighth country to have developed supersonic fighter jets.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said the KF-21 took off at the Third Flying Training Wing of the Air Force in Sacheon, South Korea, where the aircraft is manufactured.
The KF-21 flew around the area for more than 30 min. Local media reported that the flight took around 40 min.
The KF-21, armed with 4 METEOR air-to-air missiles and piloted by Maj. Junhyeon Ahn of the Air Force Test and Evaluation Unit took off from an Air Force base near KAI’s headquarters in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, at 3:40 p.m. local time. The fighter jet flew at a speed of 400 km/h (200 knots) for 30 minutes to check the basic functions of the jet’s body, landing safely at 4:13 p.m.
KAI plans to conduct around 2000 test flights with six prototypes until June 2026, followed by mass production in the same year. The Korean Air Force considers deploying 120 KF-21s by 2032.
The aircraft type would be verified as a potentially combat-capable asset at the end of 2023, and additional ordnance tests for KF-21 Block-2 will be conducted in 2026.
Forty Block-1 jets are envisioned to be capable of air-to-air battles while 80 Block-2 jets that will be deployed as of 2028 are meant to also perform air-to-ground engagements.
The two key components, electronic radar, and an infrared target tracker were developed by Hanwha Systems with local technology and supplied to the first KF-21 prototype. A radio frequency jammer and integrated electronic warfare suite were supplied by LIG Nex1.
The KF-21 is expected to be armed with South Korea-developed ALCM (air-launched cruise missile) and 10 other air-to-ground weapons, including METEOR air-to-air missiles for the first time in Asia.