Tuesday, September 21, 2021

South Korea rolls out prototype of new KF-21 Boramae fighter jet

Republic of Korea (South Korea) unveiled a prototype of the KF-21 Boramae fighter jet, formerly known as the KF-X, state-run KTV reported.

President Moon Jae-in visited Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, Friday, for the unveiling ceremony of the first KF-21 Boramae. Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and more than 230 government officials from both countries also attended the ceremony. Indonesia is a partner in the project.

“A new era in self-defense has come and we have set a historical milestone in the progress of our aviation industry,” Moon said. “I also express sincere gratitude to the Indonesian government for having trust in Korea’s capability and becoming a partner in this co-development project. Until the development is complete and the two countries are ready for mass production to make forays into third-country markets, Korea and Indonesia will work together.”

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The newest twin-engine fighters will come in single- and two-seat versions, depending on the missions to which they are tasked. The next-generation fighter aircraft developed the Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd.

The new KF-21 is s one of the most important national projects to replace current air force fighters and to introduce the next generation fighter that can satisfy the future operation concept of the force battlefield.

Boramae 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.

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. Moon said mass production will begin after final tests, and Korea plans to deploy 40 KF-21s by 2028 and 120 by 2032.

“The government seeks to become one of the top seven aviation powerhouses in the 2030s and will strengthen the country’s technological independence in aircraft engines and other core technologies,” Moon said. “Also, the government will make long-term investments into the technologies for electric or hydrogen aircraft and urban air mobility.”

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.

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About this Author

Min Cheol Gu
Gu Min-Chul is a defense reporter, covering the Korean defense industrial base and all related issues.

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