The third prototype of South Korea’s homegrown fighter KF-21 Boramae conducted its successful maiden flight last week, the country’s arms procurement agency said, signalling progress in the country’s high-profile jet development project.
The prototype took off from the Air Force’s 3rd Flying Training Wing in Sacheon, about 300 kilometres south of Seoul, at 1:01 p.m. and completed a 37-minute flight, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). The first and second KF-21 prototypes carried out their maiden flights in July and November, respectively.
Unlike the previous models, the latest prototype is equipped with systems needed for tests on both the fighter’s speed and loadable weight, paving the way for more tests on the fighter’s capabilities, according to DAPA. Previously, the speed test was conducted only on the first prototype, while the second prototype was used to test the plane’s structural load capacity.
The agency said it plans to start conducting flights for three more prototypes in stages by the first half of this year under a plan to conduct some 2,000 tests in total by February 2026.
Launched in 2015, the 8.8 trillion-won (US$6.9 billion) KF-21 project is aimed at developing a supersonic fighter to replace South Korea’s aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 jets.