South Korea’s president said a ‘new era of independent defense has begun’ as the country unveiled its own supersonic jet fighters.
Nicknamed Boramae, or ‘young hawk trained for hunting,’ the KF-21 jet was revealed today, April 9, at the production plant of Korea Aerospace Industries in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang province.
Following the unveiling, the country is expected to produce six prototypes for testing and development, the first three of which are set to be completed by the end of this year, followed by the next three in the first half of 2022.
South Korea will use the prototypes to complete ground and flight tests, after which it will set about mass producing the KF-21, with a goal of 40 jets deployed by 2028 and 120 by 2032, according to the country’s president, Moon Jae-in.
The supersonic planes are set to be armed with a range of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles and will come in either single or two-seater versions, depending on which missions they are used for. The jets could even carry air-launched cruise missiles once operational.
Speaking at the unveiling, the president said: ‘A new era of independent defense has begun, and it’s a historic milestone in the development of the [South Korean] aviation industry.’
Though only 65% of the KF-21 is of South Korean origin, its creation is a big step forward for the country, which doesn’t have a lengthy history of aircraft production, CNN reports.
It is hoped the creation of the KF-21 will lead to a $5.2 billion program that will make South Korea a top export driver and jobs creator. Moon stated that as many as 100,000 additional jobs will be created when full-scale mass production on the planes begins.
According to a government statement, South Korea will become the eighth country in the world that has developed an advanced supersonic fighter when the final tests of the KF-21 are complete. It will join the likes of the United States, Russia, China, Japan, France, Sweden, and a European consortium of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain.
In a statement to CNN, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration noted that the KF-21 ‘is the first fighter aircraft made with domestic technology, and it indicates that South Korea is now able to build fighter aircraft [on] its own.’
The group added: ‘It will also be a stepping stone to develop better fighter aircraft and operate locally developed arms.’
The supersonic jet is expected to replace South Korea’s existing F-4 and F-5 fighters; third-generation US-designed jets that were first introduced in the 1960s.
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Topics: News, South Korea
CreditsCNN and 1 other
South Korea rolls out the KF-21, joining elite group of global supersonic fighter jet makers
South Korean Military Channel/YouTube
South Korea rolls out KF-21 Boramae, its first homegrown fighter jet