PRODUCTION for the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-21 fighter jet will begin production on schedule this year, a major milestone in South Korea’s quest for an indigenously developed advanced fighter jet. The country’s arms procurement agency, Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), is expecting to sign a contract with KAI within the first half of this year to facilitate large-scale production of the KF-21 soon.
The KF-21 project, first launched in 2015 as a joint fighter jet development project with Indonesia was conceived in mind to have 120 KF-21s in the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) by 2032 to supplant the ROKAF’s aging fleet of McDonnell Douglas F-4 and Northrop F-5 fighter jets. The USD6.1 billion project is expected to continue up to 2026 amidst concerns of Indonesia’s overdue payments amounting to almost USD760 million as of Oct 2023. Seoul had agreed to fund 60% of the project’s cost as Jakarta and KAI will fund 20% each. DAPA is currently in talks with Indonesia to have an updated payment plan for the project.
So far, all six prototypes of the KF-21 have successfully carried out test flights with various performance assessments such as supersonic flights and arms separation tests successfully completed. The prototypes will continue undergoing myriads of tests throughout the year, one of the aircraft will undergo extreme weather tests through February at the Agency for Defense Development’s test facilities in Seosan, around 100km southwest of Seoul. shp/adj/dl (Pix:Defense Acquisition Program Administration)