The first indigenously designed Korean Aircraft Industries (KAI) KF-21 Boramae fighter has been officially rolled out at KAI’s Sacheon facility in the country’s south.
The supersonic low-observable aircraft – which loosely resembles a cross between a Lockheed Martin F-22A and F-35C – has been designed to fulfil a requirement to replace F-4s and F-5s in in RoKAF service. Considered a 4.5 generation aircraft instead of a very low observable 5th generation fighter, the KF-21 is powered by General Electric GE F414 engines as used in the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, does not have internal weapons bays, and its shaping is less developed than that of the F-22 and F-35.
“We’ve got our own supersonic fighter jet finally,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a speech. “We have opened a new era of self-defense and established a historic milestone for the development of the aviation industry.”
Flight testing is scheduled to commence in mid-2022, and production of Block I aircraft is scheduled to commence in 2026 once the planned six prototypes have completed a test program of 2,200 flights. Service entry is planned for 2028, and 80 KF-21s are planned to be in service by 2032.