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(VIDEO) KF-21 “Boramae” Successfully Conducts Air-to-Air Refueling Test

(VIDEO) Noh Ji-man, the Chief of the Fighter Aircraft Program at DAPA, stated that the successful execution of air-to-air refueling marks a significant development. He emphasized that it enhances the operational radius and duration of operation for the KF-21 "Boramae" fighter aircraft, while also contributing to the long-range strike capability of the South Korean Air Force and further bolstering military strength.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Several days ago, the fifth prototype aircraft of the KF-21 “Boramae” successfully conducted air-to-air refueling for the first time, as announced by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) of South Korea, the country’s defense procurement agency.

 This test comes just a few months before the second anniversary of the fighter aircraft’s maiden flight in July 2022.

The fifth prototype of the KF-21 aircraft took off from the 3rd Air Force Training Wing runway at 9:45 am and successfully completed the air-to-air refueling mission over the South Sea, according to a statement released by DAPA shortly after the successful refueling test.

The KF-21 “Boramae” prototype aircraft was initially intended to be delivered to Indonesia as part of the aircraft development program partnership, but this will only proceed once Jakarta settles long-standing outstanding payments.

Visuals of the fighter aircraft, developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), refueling in mid-air from a KC-330 tanker aircraft were broadcasted by South Korean television stations.

The air-to-air refueling test by the KF-21 “Boramae” prototype aircraft took place in the southern waters of the country.

According to DAPA, the success of the air-to-air refueling enhances the fighter aircraft’s capability to undertake longer and extended operations compared to relying solely on internal fuel tanks.

 Air-to-air refueling during flight of both aircraft is a complex and intricate operation requiring precision, coordination, and efficiency.

The Head of the Fighter Aircraft Program at DAPA, Noh Ji-man, stated that the successful execution of air-to-air refueling marks a significant development, enhancing the operational radius and duration of KF-21 fighter aircraft, thus contributing to the long-range strike capability of the Air Force and further strengthening military power.

These refueling tests will continue until March 2025, with 60 more test flights planned.

KF-21

 KAI has announced that mass production of the fourth-generation KF-21 “Boramae” fighter jets will commence this year.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the company behind the aircraft’s development, is reported to allocate approximately US$178 million (RM800 million) to build the initial batch of 40 KF-21 “Boramae” aircraft.

 It is expected to take at least three years before the first KF-21 “Boramae” fighter jet is delivered to its first customer, the South Korean Air Force (ROKAF).

“The initial mass production of the KF-21 Boramae aircraft is expected to fill the power vacuum left by the retirement of aging fighter aircraft by the South Korean Air Force,” stated the country’s defense minister in a statement last December.

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

The national media outlet, Korea Times, anticipates that the first KF-21 “Boramae” fighter jet is expected to be operational by ROKAF in mid-2026.

KF-21

ROKAF plans to operate up to 120 KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft by 2032 to replace its aging F-4 “Phantom” and F-5 fighter jets still in service.

The country’s air force intends to make the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter jet the backbone of ROKAF, playing a crucial role in potential conflicts on the Korean Peninsula.

The development program for the fighter aircraft began in 2015 but only gained substantial momentum in recent years when KAI and its technological partners started building several prototype aircraft. KAI received assistance from Lockheed Martin in the development program for the KF-21, echoing their cooperation when both companies developed the light fighter jet, FA-50.

The KF-21 prototype aircraft successfully conducted its maiden flight in 2022 and has since embarked on approximately 2,000 test flights to evaluate various systems and components.

Launched in 2015, the KF-21 aircraft development program is estimated to have incurred costs of US$6.59 billion (RM26.36 billion). – DSA

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