KF-21 Boramae Stealth Fighters: South Korean Air Force’s Game-Changing Powerhouse Reinforcement
It is expected that 40 KF-21 Boramae fighters will be produced by 2028, another 80 in the second batch, scheduled for production in 2032.
According to Airfoce Technology, the Republic of Korea Air Force is expected to receive 120 KF-21 Boramae stealth fighters developed by Korea Aerospace Industries in cooperation with Indonesian Aerospace.
The KF-X program, initiated on 9 April 2021, witnessed the domestic production of the twin-engine jet, representing a significant stride in South Korea’s defence capabilities.
It is expected that 40 KF-21 Boramae fighters will be produced by 2028, another 80 in the second batch, scheduled for production in 2032. The KF-21 Boramae, a fighter jet, is expected to play a crucial role in South Korea’s defence strategy.
The program signifies a significant investment in the nation’s defence sector with a projected contract allocation of $7.8bn over 2023-2033. Each KF-21 unit is estimated to cost approximately $65m.
The fifth-generation fighter is expected to play a key role in defending the country and enhancing the combat capabilities of the Republic of Korea Air Force.
Boramae will be part of South Korea’s defense strategy for the next decade. South Korea now has an incredible air force. Its backbone is 167 F-16 Fighting Falcons, supported by 59 F-15E Strike Eagles and 40 F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters.
The KF-21 Boramae is expected to be armed with one of the world’s best Beyond-visual-range missiles (BVRAAM), which is the Meteor built by MBDA Corporation. At the end of March 2023, KF-21 conducted the first firing test of this missile. Other weapon systems of the platform are also being tested.
The Korean domestic fighter is integrated with a very powerful “heart”, which is two General Electric F414-GE-400K engines manufactured by Hanwha Aerospace under General Electric License. Each engine provides dry thrust of about 57.8 kN (13,000 lbf), and up to 97.9 kN (22,000 lbf) with afterburner.
Boramae will fly at a maximum speed of Mach 1.8. Range is expected to be around 1,000 km. The fighter is available in single- or two-seat variants with a maximum take-off weight of about 25,600 kg. In addition to the Meteor missile, a 20mm M61A2 Vulcan automatic cannon for close-in or low-flying aerial combat.
The KF-21 will be able to carry advanced missiles such as AIM-120 AMRAAM, Diehl IRIS-T and AIM-9X Sidewinder. The KF-21 will soon be equipped with fully domestically produced weapons. The fighter will also be able to carry air-to-ground and air-to-surface missiles, as well as precision-guided bombs.
Seoul hopes 120 will be produced for defensive purposes, but that is only part of a larger plan because South Korea also wants to export the fighter. Indonesia will be the first customer after Jakarta resumes payment for the program.
Experts say that Asia will be the main market for Korean fighter jets. There are interest from Europe, especially Poland, as Warsar purchased the T-50 light fighter, as well as the K2 main battle tank and K9 self-propelled howitzer from South Korea.