Recently, South Korea’s first KF-21 Boramae fighter jet had its inaugural flight. This South Korean fighter jet flight is creating ripples in international military history–putting South Korea on the list of nations to have manufactured and successfully flown its own advanced military jet.
The first flight was able to clock a 33 minute round trip from an undisclosed base near the city of Sacheon. Maj. Ahn Jun-Hyun was the pilot chosen to fly the experimental fighter jet, marking a historic day for the South Korean fighter jet program. Maj. Jun-Hyun admitted that they were both excited and nervous, as a milestone of this magnitude had not yet been recorded in South Korean military history.
The KF-21 flown is the first of six prototypes made by the military vendor. The current six jets in progress will be flying over 2,000 times more before 2026 through strategic test flights–marking the start of mass production and deployment.
The expectation is for the South Korean air force to have a total of 120 jets by the year 2030, which could help against possible North Korean conflict.
The jets will be armed with air-to-air missiles, as well as air-to-surface missiles. After further development and analysis, the company has also expressed hope for air-launch cruise missile functionality.
Currently, the KF-21 has designs for a two-seater version as well as a single-seater version. During a test flight on Tuesday, the KF-21 had four dummy air-to-air missiles and an infrared tracking system equipped, and was able to refine its processes at a top speed of 250 miles per hour.
The jet is a joint project between South Korea and Indonesian military forces, making this a monumental win for diplomacy and aviation technology.
While the KF-21 is currently being classified as a generation 4.5 Fighter, only 2 countries have deployed domestically made generation 5 fighters: The United States & China.
However, it is currently believed that the KF-21 will be able to fly higher and faster than the F-35, which is the newest United States-made fifth-generation fighter.