South Korea’s second KF-21 prototype takes to the skies for the first time

Republic of South Korea Air Force

Four months after the first, a second prototype of the KF-21 Boramae fighter jet conducted its first flight out of Korea Aerospace Industries’ facility near Sacheon airport, South Korea.  

Much like its predecessor, the aircraft stayed airborne for around 35 minutes, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), South Korea’s procurement agency. It was flown by a pilot from the 3rd Flying Training Wing of the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), also based in the vicinity of the airport.  

“Following the success of Unit 2’s first flight, the Korean-made fighter is expected to conduct flight tests with two aircraft,” DAPA announced in a press release. “After completing preparations for ground tests and flight tests, Prototype Units 3 to 6 are scheduled to begin flight tests sequentially from the end of December ’22 to the first half of ’23.” 

The first aircraft conducted its maiden flight on July 19, 2022. The second prototype differs from the first one, sporting a darker livery in order to test the most suitable paint for the production fighter.  

The KF-21 Boramae is a result of the long-running KF-X development program, a joint development between South Korea and Indonesia. GE Aviation, another partner of the project, supplies F414 engines used on F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and Saab JAS 39E/F Gripens.   

Mass production of the 4.5 generation fighter will commence in 2026. The ROKAF hopes to receive 120 KF-21 fighters by 2032 to replace its aging fighters, namely the F-4E and F-5E.  


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