On Friday, South Korea unveiled its homegrown supersonic jet fighter, joining an exclusive club of military aviation giants and setting the stage for a $5.2 billion program it hopes will be a top export driver and jobs creator.
Once operational, the KF-21 jet is expected to be armed with a range of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles — and possibly even air-launched cruise missiles.
The twin-engine fighters will come in single- and two-seat versions, depending on the missions to which they are tasked.”A new era of independent defense has begun, and it’s a historic milestone in the development of the [South Korean] aviation industry,”
President Moon Jae-in said at the rollout of the KF-21, nicknamed Boramae, or “young hawk trained for hunting,” at the production plant of Korea Aerospace Industries in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang province.
Moon said after ground and flight tests are completed, mass production of the KF-21 will begin with a goal of 40 jets deployed by 2028 and 120 by 2032.”When full-scale mass production begins, 100,000 additional jobs will be created and we’ll have an added value of 5.9 trillion Korean won ($5.2 billion). The effect will be much greater if they’re exported,” Moon said.
South Korea is expected to produce six KF-21 prototypes for testing and development, the first three to be completed by the end of this year and the next three in the first half of 2022,