Korea Aerospace Industries has demonstrated its first indigenously developed prototype of a jet fighter on April 9, signifying a major achievement towards making the country self-reliant in defence capability. The President of South Korea, during the unveiling said that the country has finally managed to build a supersonic jet on its own and this has opened new dimensions of self-defence as well as established a historic milestone in the development of the aviation sector.
The president of the country has also said that the new jet fighter will be inducted into South Korea's airforce by 2028 and by 2032, about 80 more jets will be a part of the country's airforce fleet.
The unveiling of the prototype comes five years after the KF-X program was announced. The prototype featuring a twin-engine jet has been named KF-21 and was revealed in Sacheon at KAI headquarters, 440 km away from the country's capital Seoul.
As per the Defense Acquisition Program Administration in the country, about 65 per cent of the components of the jet will be manufactured locally in the country including an active electronically scanned array radar, electro-optical targeting pod, electronic warfare suite and the infrared search-and-track pod.
The fighter jet is expected to replace the fleet of F-5E Tigers and F-4E Phantoms fighter jets in the country. KAI states that the fighter jet will commence its maiden test flight in July 2022 and its mass production will kickstart in the next four years. The country has spent close to $8 billion on the development project of KF-21.
Offering a maximum takeoff weight of 25,600 kilograms, the state of the art plane will feature 10 pods for air to air missiles and other weapons. The fighter jet can touch speeds up to Mach 1.8 and can cruise over a distance of 2900 kilometres. The fighter jet draws power from two F414 engines that are designed by GE in the US.