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(VIDEO) KAI Starts “Marketing” of 4.5th Gen Fighter Aircraft KF-21 “Boramae” to Malaysia

(VIDEO) Although the 4.5 generation fighter aircraft developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the KF-21 "Boramae" is still in the development process, the South Korean aerospace company has already "marketed" it to the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Although the 4.5 generation fighter aircraft developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the KF-21 “Boramae” is still in the development process, the South Korean aerospace company has already “marketed” it to the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

Quoted in an interview with the Malaysian national news agency, Bernama, at the recently concluded DSA & NATSEC 2024 exhibition, a senior KAI official described the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft as the best choice for the RMAF.

“Of course, I believe it (KF-21 Boramae) will be the optimal solution (for the RMAF),” said KAI’s Regional Manager for Asia, Park Shangshin, adding that KAI has not yet started official discussions with the Malaysian government regarding the offer of fighter aircraft developed by the South Korean company.

Earlier, he was asked whether KAI was interested in offering the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft to the RMAF, considering that the RMAF, through its planned development program, is looking to replace its fighter aircraft, the Sukhoi Su-30MKM and F/A-18D Hornets, by 2035 and 2040.

The RMAF currently operates 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKM multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) manufactured by Russia and eight F/A-18D Hornet multi-role combat aircraft manufactured by the United States.

Both MRCA aircraft are the backbone of the RMAF but are aging as they have been operated by the country for more than two decades.

In an interview with local media at the previous LIMA 2023 event, KAI President and CEO Kang Goo-Young also clearly stated that the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft is an “ideal fit” for the RMAF.

He said the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft is “more than capable” of replacing the F/A-18D and Sukhoi Su-30MKM aircraft that will be retired by the RMAF in 2035 and 2040, as outlined in the Capability 2055 (CAP 55) program.

“I believe, yes, the KF-21 aircraft is more than likely capable of replacing them (F/A-18D and Su-30MKM) because the retirement time for both aircraft is almost the same as the time when the KF-21 aircraft will begin operations,” he said in the interview.

With a combination of the FA-50 and KF-21, he said, the RMAF will have a highly strategic and tactical air defense capability.

KF-21

“The KF-21 (Boramae) aircraft is a 4.5 generation fighter aircraft, but it will have a fifth-generation platform, meaning it is not only a fifth-generation aircraft but can be upgraded to a sixth-generation fighter aircraft in the future.”

“That is why I believe that the KF-21 fighter aircraft is very suitable for the RMAF,” said the KAI chief.

Launched in 2015, the development program for the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft is estimated to cost US$6.59 billion (RM26.36 billion).

KAI plans to deliver 40 Block 1 KF-21 aircraft designed for air-to-air missions by 2026, followed by 80 Block 2 KF-21 aircraft for air-to-ground missions in the next phase.

The South Korean aerospace giant is also reported to be interested in exporting the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft to interested customers after meeting the requirements of the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).

KF-21
KF-21 “Boramae”

 

Reports from South Korea indicate that the 4.5 generation KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft will begin mass production this year.

KAI is reportedly planning to spend US$178 million (RM800 million) to start building the first 40 KF-21 “Boramae” aircraft.

“The first mass production of the KF-21 Boramae aircraft is expected to fill the power vacuum left when the South Korean Air Force decommissions its aging fighter aircraft,” according to a statement from the country’s defense minister last December.

According to KAI, the engineering and construction phase of the KF-21 fighter aircraft will be completed by 2026.

KF-21
KF-21 “Boramae” launching the long-range air-to-air guided missile “METEOR.”

 

The country’s media, Korea Times, expects the first KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft to be operated by the ROKAF in the first half of 2026.

The ROKAF plans to operate up to 120 KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft by around 2032 to replace its aging F-4 “Phantom” and F-5 fighter aircraft still used by the country’s air force. — DSA

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