Two-seat prototype of South Korea’s KF-21 fighter jet conducts maiden flight 

Defense Acquisition Program Administration

The two-seat variant prototype of South Korea’s next-generation fighter jet, the KF-21 Boramae, conducted its maiden flight. 

The test flight took place on February 20, 2023. The prototype stayed airborne for about 34 minutes flying from the 3rd Flying Training Wing of the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) based in Sacheon Airport (HIN), South Korea. 

Given that the flight was only meant to confirm the initial flight stability, the aircraft was operated by a single pilot of the 52 Test Evaluation Group. 

This prototype is due to evaluate “the effect of the difference in shape from the single-seat type on the aircraft, AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Phased Array) radar system and avionics test,” the Defense Acquisition Program Administration explained. 

It is the fourth prototype of the 4.5 generation fighter but the first to feature a twin-seat cockpit. Eventually, the main role of this variant will be training missions. 

What is the KF-21 Boramae fighter jet? 

The KF-21 Boramae was a result of the long-running KF-X development program, a joint development between South Korea and Indonesia.  

The fighter is powered by two F414 engines supplied by GE Aviation. It is the same engine used on F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and Saab JAS 39E/F Gripens.   

The first aircraft prototype conducted its maiden flight on July 19, 2022, and successfully reached supersonic speed on January 17, 2023.  

The last two prototypes are expected to begin flight tests in the first half of 2023. 

Mass production of South Korea’s next-generation fighter is expected to start by 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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