Has South Korea's KF-21 Boramae fighter jet made its first misstep?

Since its launch, South Korea's KFX mid-generation combat aircraft program, and its KF-21 Boramae combat aircraft, has attracted admiration from many specialists.

The first combat aircraft developed by Seoul, it has, in fact, been carried out at full speed since its launch, both in the design phase and the manufacturing of prototypes. The same was true for the aircraft's flight test campaign.

A seemingly exemplary program, led with flying colors by South Korea

Thus, less than a year after the first flight of prototype 01, in July 2022, the device was credited with a first operational qualification, and 120 units ordered by the South Korean Air Force, with deliveries starting in 2025, for entry into service from 2026.

KF-21 Boramae prototype
KAI, the industrialist in charge of the Boramae, built 6 prototypes, including two two-seaters, in a single year.

Nothing seemed to be able to stop the South Korean twin-engine fighter, and its program of very South Korean rigor. Nothing ? Except, perhaps, reality. Indeed, the South Korean defense equipment agency, DAPA, has just announced that the first batch of KF-21s ordered by the country's air forces, in 2024, would go from the 40 planned aircraft to only 20 units.

According to the brief press release published on this subject, this temporary postponement, compensated for the following year by an additional order for the 20 missing devices, would enable additional tests to be carried out on the radar, but also on the integration of air-to-air missiles on the device. And to specify that feasibility checks had to be carried out.

The number of aircraft of the first batch of KF-21 Boramae halved by DAPA

That such an ambitious program encounters some delays is in no way surprising. Let us remember that the F-35 program, for its part, has accumulated more than five years of delay on its initial program, for the delivery of the first aircraft to the air forces, and that additional delays are accumulating, in terms of concerns full operational capacity, linked to the arrival of the Block IV standard.

KF 21 Boramae first flight
The first flight of the KF-21 Boramae took place in July 2022.

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  1. With the development of more than effective missiles of all kinds, we wonder why countries continue to spend billions manufacturing planes and tanks to which we must also add expensive protection systems....and I'm not talking about all these small flying machines that are also efficient and inexpensive, capable of shooting down a modern tank 100 times more expensive.


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