Earlier this week, South Korea became the eighth country in the world to develop a supersonic fighter plane. For the first time, South Korea’s KF-21 Boramae, the pride of the Korean Air Force, made its debut flight test. The importance of the flight test gained more significance after it became clear that the plane was armed with 4 METEOR air-to-air missiles, manufactured by France’s MBDA.
On June 27, 2022, the KF-21 Boramae, developed by KAI and South Korea’s next-generation stealth fighter jet, did tests run of its engine for the first time. The engine ignition test was a turning point for the KF-21 since it is a crucial for ground tests.
The KF-21 has 2 F414 engines manufactured by General Electric. The engine test consisted of a series of tests to ensure that they generate the correct amount of thrust and that the engine can run at its own power. The F414 engines are equipped with special fire protection devices.
The KF-21 was piloted by Major Junhyeon Ahn, who made South Korean aviation history as his stewarded the fighter plane for its first flight test. He took off from an air force base near KAI’s headquarters in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province.
Takeoffs and landings were executed perfectly. During flight, the airframe functions of the KF-21 were also tested; the flight test lasted for about 30 minutes during which it reached a speed of 200 mph (400 km/h).
South Korea is likely to begin serial production of the KF-21 in 4 years. Until then the company is likely to conduct around 2,000 test flights on a total of 6 prototypes. Seoul aims to purchase at least 120 KF-21 Boramae fighters in the next 10 years.
The presence of METEOR in its weapon bay was a key moment in the history of the missile, since it marked its entry into the Asian market for the first time.
The KF-21 will be armed with a locally produced air-launched cruise missile (ALCM). This is a good development for South Korea’s combat capability since these missiles will allow the KF-21 to strike anti-aircraft systems beyond their operational range.
South Korea has also publicly stated its desire to integrate a hypersonic missile into the KF-21 Boramae, and enhance its air combat capacities.
The KF-21 is a 4.5 generation fighter plane which has a top speed of Mach 1.81 and a flying range of 2,900 km; it weighs 7,700 kg. It can carry 10 rocket stations as well as fuel tanks and will be able to carry various air-to-air missiles including the IRIS-T and Meteor.