SEOUL – The fourth prototype of South Korea’s homegrown fighter KF-21 Boramae conducted its successful maiden flight Monday, the arms procurement agency said, in the latest sign of progress in the advanced jet’s development project.
The two-seat prototype took off from the Air Force’s 3rd Flying Training Wing in Sacheon, about 300 kilometers south of Seoul, at 11:19 a.m. and completed a 34-minute flight, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
The first and second prototypes of the KF-21 made their first flights in July and November last year, respectively, while the third one carried out its maiden flight last month.
While the three prototypes unveiled earlier have a single seat each, the fourth one is a two-seater.
In Monday’s test, only one pilot was aboard the prototype as the initial flight was intended only to check the model’s safety.
DAPA said the fourth prototype will be used to see if the difference between the single-seat and two-seat prototypes will have any impact on the operation of the aircraft and also will conduct avionics tests on the advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
The two-seat model is to be used largely to train pilots, according to DAPA.
The agency said it plans to start conducting flights for two more prototypes in the first half of the year under a plan to conduct some 2,000 test flights in total by February 2026.
Launched in 2015, the 8.8 trillion won (US$6.8 billion) KF-21 project is aimed at developing a supersonic fighter to replace South Korea’s aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 jets.
The first KF-21 prototype achieved supersonic speeds for the first time in a test flight last month. (Yonhap)