KF-21 Boramae fighter to perform maiden flight on July 22

Aircraft developed by Korea Aerospace Industries to enter service in 2028

The first prototype of the KF-21 Boramae fighter, built by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), is conducting ground tests and is expected to make its maiden flight on July 22, according to local media.

Developed from the KF-X program, the Boramae (Hawk in Korean) is the most advanced aircraft ever developed in South Korea. The supersonic jet will replace the South Korean Air Force’s aging F-4 Phantom and F-5 Tiger II fighter jets, which have been using these aircraft since the 1970s.

Despite the stealthy forms that refer to the F-22 Raptor, the KF-21 is classified as a 4.5 generation fighter jet, that is, less advanced than the Lockheed Martin aircraft.

One of the things that keep the Boramae from being a true fifth-generation fighter is that it doesn’t have an internal weapons compartment – instead, it carries missiles and bombs on wing mounts.

KAI KF-21 Boramae (KAI)

The feature goes against the philosophy of stealth fighters, which manage to significantly reduce their radar signature by “hiding” their weapons in internal compartments.

In 2021, the former president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, declared during the rollout of the KF-21 that the country intends to acquire more than 100 aircraft of the national fighter. The entry into service of the Boramae is scheduled for 2028, with an initial batch of 40 aircraft.

More F-35A fighter jets

KF-21 is a program developed in partnership between KAI and Indonesian Aerospace. The project was started in 2001 at the initiative of South Korea, gaining Indonesian participation from 2010. KAI is also working on a two-seat version of the aircraft.

The designers’ initial idea was to create a 5th generation twin-engine fighter with stealth capability. Subsequently, anticipating high costs and a longer development time, the project requirements were lowered by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).

South Korean F-35 (ROKAF)

According to KAI data, the final version of the KF-21 will have a maximum takeoff weight of 25,400 kg and will be able to fly at a maximum speed of Mach 1.8 (2,222 km/h).

While developing its indigenous fighter, South Korea has just officially requested the United States authorization to order 20 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighter jets.

The US stealth jet, unlike the KF-21, is considered a 5th generation fighter. ROKAF has already received 40 aircraft from the first batch and expects to have the 20 new aircraft in 2030.

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