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South Korea KF-21 Boramae Jets Successfully Fire IRIS-T Missiles

South Korea’s KF-21 Boramae fighter has successfully fired an IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile for the first time, capping off one of the program’s ongoing capability tests for the 4.5-generation jets.

The missile was designated using the active electronically scanned array radar onboard the aircraft, guiding the missile to engage with the target drone.

A similar drill was conducted in 2023 to test an unguided missile, functioning as a stepping stone for the current firing.

The test firing is part of the collaboration between missile manufacturer Diehl Defence and KF-21 manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), which have partnered on the program since 2017.

“I congratulate KAI for their outstanding performance on the KF-21 development program. At Diehl Defence we are proud to be part of this success story with our IRIS-T air-to-air missile,” Diehl CEO Helmut Rauch said.

The IRIS-T missiles are expected to be a part of the KF-21’s armaments when it enters service by the second half of 2026.

The KF-21 Program

The KF-21 jets, which will enter production in the first half of this year, are set to replace the Republic of Korea Air Force’s aging F-4 and F-5 fleet as its premier air fighters.

The jet production is a joint effort between Seoul and Indonesia, which currently plans to share $439 million in funding for the program.

Around 20 aircraft will be produced this year, a significant decrease from the initially planned 40 due to budget issues with Jakarta that once led to 114 Indonesian engineers leaving the project.

The project will take on a staggered approach in production, completing over 120 units by 2032.

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