SEOUL ($1=1,311.24 South Korean Wons) — South Korea is the eighth country in the world to develop a supersonic fighter jet, and on Tuesday [July 19th] the pride of the Korean Air Force, the KF-21 Boramae, made its first test flight. The importance of the flight acquired even greater value after it became clear that the fighter was armed with 4 METEOR air-to-air missiles, manufactured by the French MBDA.
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BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that on June 27 the KF-21 Boramae, developed by KAI and South Korea’s next-generation stealth fighter jet, ignited its engine for the first time in ground tests. The first engine ignition test was also a turning point for the KF-21. An important part of the ground tests for the KF-21, which has 2 F414 engines manufactured by General Electric, was the integration activities of the F414 engine. The engine test consists of a series of tests to ensure that the thrust is produced correctly and that the engine will run at its own power. The engines of the KF-21 are also equipped with additional special fire protection devices.
Major Junhyeon Ahn remains in the history of South Korean aviation as the first pilot to fly the KF-21 Boramae. The test flight was conducted from an air force base near KAI’s headquarters in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province. Both takeoff and landing were executed perfectly. During the flight, the main airframe functions were tested, with the fighter in the air for about half an hour and reaching a speed of 200 mph [400 km/h].
Serial production is expected to stop in nearly four years – in 2026, but until then, the company says, there are at least 2,000 more test flights of a total of six prototypes. According to the plans of the government in Seoul, South Korea intends to acquire a total of 120 KF-21 Boramae fighters in the next ten years.
The presence of METEOR on the weapon bays of the aircraft is a key moment in the history of this missile. It was with the KF-21 Boramae that the air-to-air missile entered the Asian market for the first time. But, apart from the French pride, the South Korean fighter will be armed with a locally produced ALCM [air-launched cruise missile]. This is good news that will increase the combat capability of South Korea’s air defenses, as these missiles will allow the fighter jets to strike anti-aircraft systems beyond their operational range. Seoul has made no secret of its hopes to integrate a hypersonic missile into the newest member of the KF-21 Boramae air combat family.
The KF-21, a 4.5 generation fighter, is expected to fly at a top speed of Mach 1.81, a range of 2,900 km, and a weight of 7,700 kg. The fighter will contain 10 rocket stations and fuel tanks. It will also be able to carry various air-to-air missiles such as the IRIS-T and Meteor.
The total value of the project is 5.9 trillion won [$5.2 billion]. In a speech at the KF-21 launch ceremony at the Korea Aerospace Industry facility in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said: “Now a new era in our independent defense is beginning and it is a historic milestone in the development of the South Korean aviation industry.”
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