South Korea’s locally-developed KF-21 Boramae (Hawk) fighter aircraft completed its maiden test flight this week.
The fighter jet took off from Sacheon Airport at 3:40 in the afternoon, with a two-seat T-50 advanced jet trainer serving as a chase plane for monitoring.
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) 🇰🇷 footage of KF-21 undergoing taxiing trials earlier this week ahead of planned first flight pic.twitter.com/jHH2Nz7O8q
— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) July 8, 2022
The KF-21 was fitted with four mock-ups of the long-range Meteor air-to-air missile and an infrared search-and-track system.
It reportedly reached 400 kilometers (250 miles) per hour, below its top speed of 1.8 times the speed of sound.
The flight makes South Korea one of the few nations to manufacture and fly a next-generation supersonic fighter.
The other countries to develop such aircraft are Russia, China, the US, Japan, France, Sweden, the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
‘A 4.5-Generation Fighter Jet’
Despite its status as a “state-of-the-art” aircraft, the KF-21 Boramae fighter is only considered a “4.5 generation” plane by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
It said that the supersonic aircraft lacks features such as an internal weapons bay, making it more stealthy.
However, defense analysts state that the aircraft may be able to fly higher and faster than the US F-35 combat jet.
“The KF-21 is the first fighter aircraft made with domestic technology, and it indicates that South Korea is now able to build fighter aircraft on its own,” DAPA said in 2021. “It will also be a stepping stone to develop better fighter aircraft and operate locally developed arms.”
The agency hailed the test flight as bringing the country one step closer to the successful development of a homegrown fighter jet, symbolizing “a new leap in domestic aviation technology and a rise of a strong high-tech military.”