Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) rolled-out Friday the first prototype of its KF-X fighter, officially christened “KF-21 Boramae,” built under a 8.8 trillion-won (US$7.9 billion) project, South Korea’s most expensive defence project to date that began in 2015.
The KF-21 Boramae is scheduled to fly for the first time in 2022. KAI plans to build more prototypes and carry out flight tests from next year and to complete the development of the Block-1 system by June 2026, Yonhap news reported quoting officials.
40 jets to be deployed by 2028: President Moon
Speaking at the roll-out ceremony, President Moon Jae-in said that the combat jet will go into full-fledged production as soon as it completes ground and air tests. "We plan to deploy 40 jets by 2028 and a total of 120 by 2032," the president added.
"Based on this 4.5 generation platform, South Korea will be capable of building more advanced versions down the road," professor Bang Hyo-Choong of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) said to Yonhap.
Around 65 percent of its components are being made indigenously, including the active electronically scanned array (AESA) rada. In addition, the EW Suite (Integrated Electronic Warfare Equipment), IRST (infrared search and track) pod and EO TGP (electro optical targeting pod).
Given the national importance attached to the project, 16 of universities, 11 of laboratories and 553 suppliers are participating in the KF-X project.
In May 2020, GE Aviation delivered the first F414-400K engine for the KF-X aircraft. The engine is part of the family of power plants that powers aircraft such as the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Saab Gripen and India’s MKII Tejas Light Combat Aircraft.
South Korea chose Germany's IRIS-T and MBDA's Meteor missiles as the air-to-air short- and mid-range missiles for the new jet.
As for the long-range air-to-ground weapon, the country decided in 2018 to develop its own stand-off air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), and the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) is carrying out research with a goal to build one by 2028. The joint development of the ALCM with foreign partners could be an option
South Korea is schedule to secure air-to-air capabilities in the first phase of the project to be completed by 2026, and air-to-ground capabilities in the second phase by 2028.