South Korea’s new fighter jet makes maiden flight
South Korea’s next-generation fighter aircraft has completed its maiden flight, the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) announced Tuesday.
The KF-21 Boramae, meaning hawk in Korean, took off at the third Flying Training Wing of the Air Force in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, and flew around the area for more than 30 minutes.
The first flight took off from the base at 15:40 and landed at 16:13.
The test flight was conducted by Major Ahn Jun-hyeon, a test flight pilot belonging to the 52nd Test and Evaluation Squadron of the Air Force.
According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the KF-21 is a 4.5-generation fighter aircraft with higher capabilities than a KF-16 fighter. The Air Force plans to secure 120 advanced multi-role fighter jets by 2032 to replace its aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s under the project.
The KF-21 took off, equipped with four Meteor air-to-air missiles, but without other main equipment such as an infrared search-and-track system. In addition, it traveled at a speed of about 400 kilometers per hour, or 215 knots, rather than reaching supersonic speeds.
Currently, there are six KF-21 prototypes and they plan to conduct a combined 2,000 sorties or dispatches over Korea’s western and southern territorial waters through 2026 before undergoing a one-year tentative combat suitability test this year, with a view to achieving its final combat suitability in 2026 ― key steps in the phased development process, according to KAI.
Ahead of the flight test, KAI successfully completed a ground test earlier this month, aimed at checking the aircraft’s basic integrity and operability.