Military Aviation

[Video] First flight of KF-21 Boramae, South Korea’s first indigenous fighter jet

The KF-21 Boramae’s maiden flight lasted 30~40 minutes.

Taken on Jul. 19, 2022 the video in this post features KF-21 Boramae (Hawk), South Korea’s first indigenous fighter jet, has conducting its successful first flight.

The KF-21’s maiden flight lasted 30~40 minutes.

According to Korean Defense Blog Facebook Page, Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) recently held an official press conference during the showcase of KF-21 Boramae and as reported by it unveiled several new information regarding the program.

1) ROKAF has OFFICIALLY ordered feasibility study to upgrade KF-21 into a “5.5th gen” fighter jet.

This is ROKAF’s first acknowledgement that they’re pursuing possible development of 5th gen fighter jet. If ROKAF approves of such program following its internal feasibility study, the proposed “Block III” upgrade program could commence after 2026/2028.

ROKAF could also pursue a larger aircraft based on the KF-21 platform, dubbed KF-XX, instead of Block III program. This would be a similar upgrade from legacy F/A-18 Hornet to F/A-18E Super Hornet, or F-15 Eagle to F-15E Strike Eagle.

KF-21 is currently designed to be a “4.5+” gen fighter intended to be one of the most capable in its class with its “stealthy” low-RCS design. Being larger than the F-35, KF-21 will be significantly more capable than the latest F-16V and eventually replace F-16Us in ROKAF service.

KF-21 Block I will only feature air-to-air capability while Block II will feature ground-attack capability.

2) All 6 flying prototypes have been assembled by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), approximately 62% of KF-21 development program has been completed.

3) Due to global hyperinflation, initial cost of KF-21 could rise by as high as 20%. However, it is expected that cost will stabilize and that there will be no reduction of order.

4) Indonesia has yet to make any progress regarding its delayed payment. Even though negotiations are continuing, KAI stated that it will NOT provide prototype aircraft to Indonesia if it doesn’t meet its deadline.

According to KAI, the aircraft is designed to be able to fly at a maximum speed of Mach 1.81, with its flying range reaching 2,900 kilometers.

Featuring dimension of 16.9m x 4.7m x 11.2m, KF-X is larger than F-16 and is of similar size as F-18. Development of KF-21 began in earnest on January 2016 and the assembly process began in 2019 after Critical Design Review (CDR) was completed in 2018.

Lockheed Martin is an official partner of the KF-X program. When the ROKAF acquired 40 F-35A jet fighters from LM, one of the major clauses in the contract included technology transfers, four of which were categorized as “core technologies” necessary for KF-21’s development.

The four “core technologies” were: Active Electronically-Scanned (AESA) Radar, Radio Frequency (RF) Jammer, Electro-Optical Targeting Pod (EO-TGP), and Infrared Search and Track (IRST).

However, since the US Congress deemed them to be too sensitive, and the technology transfer did not push through, these technologies are being developed indigenously.

Photo credit: Republic of Korea Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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