The 3rd Prototype of the South Korean-Indonesian KF-21 Boramae Advanced Fighter Jet Successfully Flying

The 3rd Prototype of the South Korean-Indonesian KF-21 Boramae Advanced Fighter Jet Successfully Flying
The 3rd Prototype of the South Korean-Indonesian KF-21 Boramae Advanced Fighter Jet Successfully Flying

International Military - The third prototype of the KF/IF-21 Boramae, a joint South Korean-Indonesian advanced fighter jet, successfully flew for the first time on Thursday. The third prototype of the fighter flew for 37 minutes after takeoff from the Air Force's 3rd Flying Training Wing in Sacheon, roughly 300 kilometers south of Seoul.

The success of the flight was announced by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), South Korea's procurement agency. The first prototype of the Boramae fighter aircraft made its maiden flight on July 19, 2022. Then, the second prototype made its first flight in November 2022. According to DAPA, unlike the previous version, the third prototype was equipped with the necessary technology for the speed and weight test of the fighter, paving the way for Additional fighter capability tests.

Previously, the first prototype was only used for speed tests. While the second prototype is used to evaluate the structural load capacity of the aircraft. DAPA stated that they intend to start testing three more prototypes in stages during the first half of this year, with a total of 2,000 tests planned by February 2026.

The long-running KF/IF-X program, a collaborative development between South Korea and Indonesia, resulted in the KF-21 Boramae. Seoul has an 80% stake in the project, while Indonesia holds 20%. The 8.8 trillion won ($6.9 billion) KF/IF-21 project, which began in 2015, aims to build a supersonic fighter to replace South Korea's aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 fighters.

The 4.5 generation fighter will enter the mass production stage in 2026. The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) intends to purchase 120 KF/IF-21 aircraft by 2032. DAPA previously said that the KF-21 was the first combat aircraft to be launched. produced using local technology, demonstrating South Korea's ability to produce fighter aircraft independently. Additionally, Boramae will serve as a springboard to upgrade the fighter and use locally produced weapons.

Although only 65% of the KF-21's components were made in South Korea, the test flight of the prototype was an important achievement for a country with a short history of aircraft production. The United States, Russia, China, Japan, France, Sweden and a four-nation European alliance of Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain are the only other countries that have manufactured and flown advanced supersonic fighter jets.

The KF/IF-21 will enhance South Korea's air offensive and defensive capabilities. Given the state of the North Korean Air Force's aging fighter jets, the KF/IF-21 could easily outperform them. In the future, the ROKAF will be equipped with a mix of F-35 stealth fighter jets for strike operations and KF/IF-21 for air defense.

Experts believe this framework will make good use of the F-35, which is better designed for ground attacks, while the KF/IF-21 is designed for air-to-air missions. Quoting Yonhap news agency, Friday (6/1/2023), Seoul is now aiming to test the domestically made KF/IF-21 fighter at supersonic speeds this month weather permitting.

The test will represent a significant step forward in the development of a high-profile warplane. Achieving supersonic capability is an important aspect of the development effort led by its manufacturer, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI).

This test is necessary to ensure that critical functions, such as avionics, operate properly regardless of flight speed. The manufacturer intends to conduct a test for supersonic speeds sometime in January. However, a source told Yonhap news agency that the exact date could not be disclosed due to the possibility of being delayed due to weather conditions. The development comes at a time when tensions between North and South Korea are at an all-time high.

On December 26, Pyongyang launched five drones over the Military Demarcation Line that separates the two Koreas. A military official revealed on January 5 that a North Korean drone briefly crossed a no-fly zone with a radius of 3.7 kilometers over President Yoon Suk Yeol's office in Seoul last month.

Meanwhile, the South Korean military conducted air defense maneuvers on Thursday afternoon under a small enemy drone infiltration scenario. The exercise featured around 50 aircraft, including a KA-1 light attack aircraft and a 500MD helicopter with personnel carrying drone jammer weapons.

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