South Korea Launches First Internally Developed Supersonic Fighter Jet Prototype

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced the successful inaugural flight of its first supersonic fighter jet, KF-21 Boramae on Tuesday.

According to DAPA, the KF-21 lifted off at 3:40 p.m on July 19 from the 3rd Air Force Training Squadron’s runway at Gyeongsangnam-do Province’s Sacheon. After 33 minutes of flight, the jet safely landed back on the runway at 4:13 p.m local time.

“This is the moment when Korea’s capacity to develop 4.5-generation fighter jets was realized through the success of its first flight. Taking a step closer to final development symbolizes new progress in domestic aviation technology and the nation’s rise as a high-tech military power,” said DAPA.

DAPA confirmed that the Boramae aircraft is the first of six KF-21 prototypes produced by Korea Aerospace Industries that will fly more than 2,000 test flights between now and 2026, when mass manufacturing and deployment will start.

The KF-21 is anticipated to be equipped with various air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, as well as air-launched cruise missiles, once it is operational.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said that the KF-21’s launch set a “Turning point in the expansion of our defense exports,” deeming it a “major achievement” in the East Asian country’s self-defense.

By 2030, a total of 120 KF-21 jets are expected to be supplied to the South Korean air force.

Korea is now only the eighth nation along with the United States, Russia, China, Japan, France, Sweden, and a group of European nations made up of the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain to produce its own supersonic fighter jet.

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