Seoul to purchase 120 of its Boramae stealth fighters by 2032

Seoul intends to prioritize its KF-21 Boramae fighter jet. According to publications in the international media, such as Airfoce-Technology, South Korea will be equipped with 120 fighters of this model.

KF-21 Boramae fighter will change the defenses of Korea and Indonesia
Photo credit: AFP

The next decade, starting this year, will be a busy one, and it looks like a fruitful one for the Korea Aerospace Industry [KAI]. 40 KF-21 Boramae fighters should be produced by 2028. Another 80, as a second tranche of production, should leave the production lines by 2032.

This project is likely to not only help the local industry, but also encourage competition to a great extent. Just under US$8 billion will be distributed by Seoul over the next decade to participants in the KF-21 Boramae program. This will happen in stages, South Korean media say.

KF-21 will strengthen the defense

The South Korean fighter is expected to play a major role in the defense of the country and increase the combat capability of the Korean Air Force. It would not be wrong to say that Boramae is already part of the defense strategy for the next decade.

South Korea currently has an enviable air force in the region. The backbone of the Korean Air Force is the 167 multirole F-16 Fighting Falcons. They are complemented by 59 F-15E Strike Eagle strike fighters and 40 F-35A stealth fighters.

The Korean fighter is expected to be armed with one of the best beyond visual range air-to-air [BVRAAM] Meteor missiles. Nearly a month and a half ago at the end of March, the KF-21 performed its first firing test by firing this particular missile. In this way, Seoul conducted a test not only of the missile, but also of the platform’s internal weapons systems.

About KF-21

The Korean flagship is powered by a powerful power unit consisting of two General Electric F414-GE-400K engines manufactured by Hanwha Aerospace under License of General Electric. Each of the two engines provides 57.8 kN [13,000 lbf] thrust dry, 97.9 kN [22,000 lbf] with afterburner.

Boramae will fly at a maximum speed of Mach 1.8. The maximum range is expected to be in the range of 1,000 km. The fighter can be operated by a one-man or two-man crew. Its maximum takeoff weight will be 25,600 kg [56,400 lb].

We have already mentioned the Meteor rocket. But it is only part of the complex armament. A 20 mm M61A2 Vulcan rotary autocannon will take over the role of aggressor in close air combat, or when flying low. The KF-21 will be able to carry missiles such as MBDA Meteor, AIM-120 AMRAAM, Diehl IRIS-T and AIM-9X Sidewinder.

Korean versions of every single short-range, medium-range or long-range missile are currently under development. So soon the KF-21 will fly with fully indigenously produced armament. The fighter will also be capable of carrying air-to-surface, air-to-ship missiles, as well as precision-guided bombs.

KF-21 for export

Seoul hopes the 120 units to be produced for internal defense are just part of a larger production concept. South Korea will want to sell this fighter.

Supersonic 4.5-gen KF-21 Boramae fighter flew for the first time
Photo credit: YouTube

Indonesia will be the first customer after Jakarta resumes payments to the program. Experts say that mainly Asia will be the predominant market for the Korean fighter. But there is already interest from Europe, especially Poland. Poland, which bought KAI T-50 light aircraft, as well as tanks and howitzers from South Korea.

The US can see a replacement in the person of the KF-21 if they fail to sell their F-35 to a specific customer in the region, and not only. But the main goal, mostly from a political point of view, is to cut off possible expansion through foreign sales of the Chinese J-20, J-10 and FC-31.


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