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Korea Aerospace Industries KF-21 Boramae Prototype Successfully Conducts 1st Aerial Refueling Test

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Korea Aerospace Industries KF-21 Boramae Prototype Successfully Conducts 1st Aerial Refueling Test

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KAI KF-21 Boramae Prototype Successfully Conducts 1st Aerial Refueling Test
KAI KF-21 Boramae Prototype Successfully Conducts 1st Aerial Refueling Test

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-21 Boramae prototype has completed its inaugural aerial refueling test. Conducted with precision and efficiency, this test marks a crucial step forward in validating the advanced capabilities of the KF-21 for extended-range operations. Administered by the South Korea Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the test saw the Air Force’s KC-330 tanker aircraft refuel the KF-21 prototype over waters off the southern coast. Departing from an air base in Sacheon, located 296 kilometers southeast of Seoul, the KF-21 engaged in seamless coordination with the tanker aircraft. Utilizing a flying boom connection, the KC-330 transferred fuel to the KF-21 prototype No. 5 during the session.

According to DAPA, this single refueling session is anticipated to increase the operational range of the KF-21 aircraft by at least 50 percent. Such capability is paramount for modern fighter jets, enabling them to undertake extended missions with enhanced endurance and effectiveness. The successful aerial refueling test underscores the KF-21’s potential to bolster the Air Force’s combat capabilities, particularly in long-range engagements. As part of ongoing development efforts, DAPA intends to continue testing the KF-21’s aerial refueling capabilities across various flight altitudes and speeds. This iterative process ensures thorough evaluation and optimization of the aircraft’s performance under diverse operational scenarios.

KAI KF-21 Boramae prototype achieves auccessful aerial refueling test, paving the way for enhanced combat range
KAI KF-21 Boramae prototype No. 5 achieves auccessful aerial refueling test, paving the way for enhanced combat range. (Photo by DAPA)

The KAI KF-21 Boramae program represents a collaborative endeavor between South Korea and Indonesia, aimed at delivering an advanced multirole fighter aircraft. With a stealthier airframe than fourth-generation fighters, the KF-21 embodies cutting-edge technology tailored to meet evolving defense requirements. While the current configuration does not feature internal weapon bays akin to fifth-generation fighters, future developments may incorporate such enhancements. Led by the South Korean government, the program boasts substantial participation from Indonesia, with a 20% stake since 2010. Private partners, including Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), contribute the remaining 20% to the program. Following the completion of the first prototype in April 2021, the Boramae embarked on its maiden test flight in July 2022.

Scheduled for manufacturing commencement in 2026, the KF-21 program aims to deliver at least 40 aircraft by 2028. With projections indicating the deployment of 120 aircraft by 2032, South Korea anticipates leveraging the KF-21 to strengthen its air defense capabilities significantly. Moreover, the aircraft’s export potential presents opportunities for international partnerships and market expansion. The successful completion of the KF-21 Boramae prototype’s inaugural aerial refueling test underscores South Korea’s commitment to indigenous defense innovation and technological prowess. As development progresses, the KF-21 stands poised to emerge as a formidable asset, capable of addressing contemporary security challenges while setting new standards in aerial warfare excellence.

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