Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is assembling five more prototypes of its KF-21 fighter jet after the first prototype was rolled-out on April 9.
The first prototype is currently in the building opposite the assembly line, where its insides are exposed for ground testing which will take another year or so, a report in South Korean media outlet Hankyoreh which was granted access to the assembly line, said.
Of the five prototypes on the assembly line, the second prototype is currently being tested to check whether missiles can be loaded properly.
An image published as part of the exclusive report showed five prototypes in line and engineers working on them. The leading aircraft in the image, presumably the second prototype, looks more complete than the others with its nose cone and wings attached. Missiles are kept next to the aircraft supposedly to conduct loading and unloading tests.
This ground reportage from the KF-21 facility of KAI should put at rest speculation regarding delays in the KF-21 project triggered by reports that the first prototype had been partly dis-assembled.
The first flight test is scheduled for 2022, with the entire development process set to be completed by 2026. As per a deal with Indonesia, South Korea is to hand over one prototype and technology to Jakarta to manufacture the aircraft in Indonesia.
The South Korean Air Force plans to induct 40 KF-21 units by 2028 and another 80 units by 2032.