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Mass Production of 40 KF-21 “Boramae” Fighter Jets for ROKAF Begins This Year

The company responsible for developing the aircraft, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), is reportedly set to allocate a sum of US$178 million (RM800 million) to commence mass production of the initial 40 units of the KF-21 "Boramae" aircraft for the Republic of Korea Air Force, which anticipates possessing up to 120 of these advanced aircraft.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) – Despite facing various challenges and now shrouded with allegations of technology theft by its Indonesian engineers, the 4.5 generation fighter aircraft KF-21 “Boramae” is set to commence mass-production production this year.

The company behind the aircraft, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), is reported to allocate as much as US$178 million (RM800 million) to begin the mass construction of the initial 40 units of the KF-21 “Boramae” aircraft.

At least three years will be taken by KAI before the first KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft is completed and handed over to its first customer, the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).

“The initial mass production of the KF-21 Boramae aircraft is expected to fill the power vacuum left when the Republic of Korea Air Force retires its aging fighter aircraft,” said the nation’s defense minister in a statement last December.

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

KF-21 “Boramae”


The country’s media, Korea Times, anticipates that the first KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft is expected to be operational by the ROKAF in the first half of 2026.

ROKAF plans to operate up to 120 KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft by the year 2032 to replace its aging F-4 “Phantom” and F-5 fighter jets still in use by the nation’s air force.

The nation’s air force intends to make the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft its backbone, playing a crucial role in the event of warfare on the Korean Peninsula.

Additionally, South Korea is also planning to develop short-range air-to-air guided missiles for use by the fourth-and-a-half-generation fighter aircraft, KF-21 “Boramae.”

According to the country’s defense acquisition agency, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the development program for the short-range air-to-air guided missiles using domestic technology is estimated to cost US$460 million (RM2 billion).

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


“The short-range air-to-air guided missile development program aims to produce the guided missiles by the year 2035.”

This program will enhance the capabilities of the domestic defense industry through the development of advanced defense systems and further enhance the export of domestically produced guided missiles associated with the KF-21 fighter aircraft.

The fighter aircraft development program began in 2015 but only truly commenced a few years ago when KAI and its technological partners started building several prototype aircraft.

KAI received assistance from Lockheed Martin in the KF-21 development program, echoing the cooperation between the two companies when they jointly developed the light fighter aircraft 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 cost US$6.59 billion (RM26.36 billion).

KF-21 “Boramae” during its maiden flight in 2022.


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

The South Korean aerospace giant also reportedly intends to start exporting the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft to interested customers.

KAI has targeted several countries as potential customers for the KF-21 fighter aircraft, especially those that have already used the light fighter aircraft FA-50/T-50, such as Thailand, the Philippines, Iraq, Poland, and Malaysia.

With an estimated unit price of US$65 million (RM260 million) as reported by international defense media, the price of the KF-21 (possibly Block 1) is lower compared to other fourth-and-a-half-generation aircraft such as the Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon. — DSA