|Role||Block 1: Air superiority fighter |
Block 2: Multirole combat aircraft, air superiority fighter
|Manufacturer||Korea Aerospace Industries|
|Design group||Agency for Defense Development|
|First flight||2022 (planned)|
|Primary users||Republic of Korea Air Force (intended)|
Indonesian Air Force (intended)
|Number built||1 prototype|
The KAI KF-21 Boramae/Fighting Haw (formerly known as KF-X) is a joint South Korean/Indonesian 4.5 generation fighter aircraft development program with the goal of producing an advanced multirole fighter for the South Korean and Indonesian air forces. The airframe is stealthier than other fourth-generation fighters, but does not carry weapons in internal bays like fifth-generation fighters, though internal bays may be introduced later in development. The program is led by the South Korean government, which holds 60% of the program’s shares. Indonesia took a 20% stake in the program in 2010, and the remaining 20% is held by private partners including the manufacturer Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI). The KAI KF-X is South Korea’s second domestic fighter jet development program, following the FA-50.
The initial goal for the program was to develop a single-seat twin-engine multirole fighter with stealth capabilities exceeding both the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon but less than those of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The Weapon Systems Concept Development and Application Research Center of Konkuk University advised that the KF-X should be superior to the F-16 Fighting Falcon, with 50% greater combat range, 34% longer airframe lifespan, better avionics, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, more-effective electronic warfare, and data link capabilities. Their recommendations also specified approximately 50,000 pounds-force (220,000 N) of thrust from two engines, supersonic interception and cruising capabilities, and multi-role capabilities. The project requirements were later downgraded by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) to a 4.5 generation fighter with limited stealth capabilities
On 15 July 2010, the Indonesian government agreed to fund 20% of the KF-X project cost in return for one prototype, design participation, technical data, and production sharing. On 2 August 2011, a joint research center was opened in Daejeon, South Korea.
In November 2017, Indonesia, through state-owned Indonesia Aerospace, failed to pay its share in the latest round of development costs, prompting criticism from South Korea. As of 2019, Indonesia was renegotiating its involvement in the program. FlightGlobal reported in July 2019 that Indonesia was exploring payment in Indonesia-produced armaments instead of cash. By July 2019, Indonesia was approximately ₩300 billion in arrears.
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In 2014, the C103 configuration was chosen and Lockheed Martin agreed to transfer two dozen F-35A technologies as part of a purchase deal. However, the US government blocked the transfer of four vital technologies: AESA radar, infrared search and track (IRST), electro-optical target tracking devices, and radio jammer technology. South Korea was thus required to develop these technologies domestically. A 2015 audit estimated that 87% of technologies for the project had been secured. The preliminary design was finalized in June 2018. In September 2019, a critical design review examined 390 technical data sets and confirmed that the KF-X was adequate to ROKAF’s requirements
Maximum speed: Mach 1.81
Hardpoints: 10 (six under-wing and four under-fuselage)
Korea Aerospace Industries (Korean: 한국항공우주산업, Hanja: 韓國航空宇宙産業) (KAI) is a South Korean aerospace and defense company.