South Korea’s indigenously developed KAI KF-21 Boramae fighter jet is almost ready for the maiden flight, the country’s military reports.
According to an extensive report in Kookbang Ilbo, an official newspaper of the South Korean Ministry of National Defense, 50% of ground tests have been completed on six flyable prototypes, while at least one of them passed 95% of the tests that are required before the first flight.
The rest of the tests – including high-speed runs – are to be completed in the coming days while the maiden flight is scheduled for July 2022, Kookbang Ilbo reports.
The photos, published by the newspaper, reveal that at least one of the prototypes – marked as 004 – is a previously-unseen two-seater variant.
KF 21 Boramae ready for first flight— Nebuchanedzar (@abe_accord) June 13, 2022
The six prototypes will perform over 2,000 test flights before the start of serial production in 2026. Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) said it plans to manufacture 120 KF-21s by 2032.
The aircraft, often described as 4.5 generation fighter jet with stealth characteristics, has been in development since 2010. Much of that time has been spent in limbo, and the development in earnest started in 2016.
Since then the aircraft has been at the center of numerous political scandals and disputes, notably a prolonged fight between South Korea and Indonesia, which is expected to finance up to 20% of the development program.