South Korea to Begin Production of Indigenous KF-21 Fighter Jets

World Defense

South Korea to Begin Production of Indigenous KF-21 Fighter Jets

Defense News , South Korea :- South Korea is gearing up for a groundbreaking venture as it prepares to ink a deal with the state-owned Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the extensive production of the cutting-edge KF-21 Boramae combat jet.

This strategic initiative aligns with Seoul's ambitious goal to upgrade its aerial military capabilities by 2023, leveraging the development of a domestically-manufactured aircraft. The impending deployment of KF-21s is slated to usher in a new era, as these advanced jets are poised to replace the aging F-4 Phantom and F-5 Tiger fleets of the South Korea Air Force.

As reported by Seoul-based news outlet Yonhap News Agency, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) segment of the government plans to kickstart production in the first half of 2024. The administration underscores that all six KF-21 testbeds have successfully undergone rigorous flight demonstrations, performance evaluations, and arms separation tests mandated by Korea's armed forces.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff granted approval for the combat assessment of the KF-21 in May 2023, marking a significant milestone a year after the system's maiden flight at Sacheon Airport.

DAPA disclosed that the prototypes will undergo further trials later this year, with one of the aircraft slated to undergo an extreme weather test in Seosan this February.

In a noteworthy collaboration, KAI joined forces with the European company MBDA last month, aiming to equip South Korea's upcoming KF-21s and its existing FA-50 light fighter jets with a suite of missile products. This includes the integration of MBDA's Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAMs), Brimstone ground/air-launched attack missiles, and Spear air-launched missiles into the aircraft's arsenal.

Eric Beranger, the CEO of MBDA, expressed enthusiasm during the collaboration's announcement, stating, "The combination of MBDA’s world-leading weapon products and technologies with KAI’s proven record of new aircraft development and rapid delivery is an exciting prospect for the world defense market, reflecting the shared values and interests of both parties."

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