South Korea’s own new generation of supersonic jet fighter KF-21 “Falcon” (KF-21 Boramae) No. 1 prototype unveiled today (9), a major achievement for South Korea in the aviation industry, also means that South Korea will become the world’s eighth country to develop and produce its own supersonic fighter. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that the KF-21 fighter aircraft will immediately start full-scale production after completing land and air tests, which symbolizes South Korea’s entry into the era of independent defense, but also a historical milestone in the development of South Korea’s aviation industry.
According to foreign media reports, South Korea’s Defense Agency (DAPA) held an unveiling ceremony for the KF-21 on the 9th. The KF-21 is a 4.5-generation twin-engine fighter, divided into single-seat and two-seat versions depending on the type of mission, and is expected to be equipped with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and may even hang air-launched cruise missiles.
When Moon attended the unveiling ceremony, he pointed out that after completing land and air flight tests, the KF-21 will be officially mass-produced, with the goal of deploying 40 units by 2028 and 120 by 2032. He said that when the KF-21 begins mass production, it is expected to create 1 billion jobs and 5.9 trillion won in added value, and will have an even greater effect if it can open up the export market.
According to DAPA, six KF-21s are expected to be produced for testing first, with the first three to be completed by the end of this year and the other three to be tested in the first half of 2022.
DAPA and the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) launched the fighter’s research and development in 2016, with the goal of replacing the ROKAF’s aging F-4 and F-5 fighters, and the Falcon prototype finally came out after five years. It is reported that the KF-21 research and development program total funding up to 18.6 trillion won (about 474.4 billion NT dollars), the research and development costs alone will be 8.6 trillion won, Indonesia is involved in part of the investment.
CNN reports that compared to the 5th generation stealth fighter developed by the US and China, DAPA has positioned the KF-21 as a 4.5 generation fighter because it lacks an internal weapons bay to achieve stealth, but experts believe that the KF-21 may be able to fly higher and faster than the US F-35 stealth fighter and still carry powerful weapons.
South Korea’s own prototype of the next-generation supersonic jet fighter, the KF-21 Falcon (KF-21 Boramae) I. Photo: Courtesy of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI)
South Korea’s own KF-21 “Falcon” (KF-21 Boramae) No. 1 prototype. Photo: Taken from the Facebook page of the Korea Defense Agency