Meet Korea’s New Fighter Jet – The KF-21

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Just last year, South Korea announced the maiden flight of their newest fighter jet – the KF-21 Boramae. With still three more years before its planned introduction to service, here are five things we know about the KF-21.

1. Single-seater that is larger than most fighters

According to Korea Aerospace Industries, the KF-21 has a fuselage length of 55.4 ft, a width of 36.7 ft, and a height of 15.3 ft. Interestingly, the design of the KF-21 closely resembles that of an F-22 Raptor. This is unsurprising since they partnered with Lockheed Martin for technological support when KAI won the bid.

2. It has no internal weapon storage

This might change in the future, but the KF-21 does not have any internal weapon storage. Instead, the missiles are recessed into the aircraft’s fuselage or are carried in ten weapon hard points. So far, the KF-21 is expected to carry a maximum payload of 17,000 lbs.

3. A 4.5-generation fighter with limited stealth capabilities

Initially, the program aimed to develop a single-seat twin-engine multirole fighter with stealth capabilities rivaling the Rafale and Typhoon. Korea even sought to make the KF-21 superior to the F-16, with a longer combat range, better avionics, and enhanced electronic warfare capabilities. Still, the requirements were later downgraded by Korean officials.

4. It already has a Navy variant

Like some fighters developed today, the KF-21 also has a carrier-based version called the KF-21N. KAI unveiled the model in September 2022, months after canceling a small aircraft carrier project. The KF-21N is expected to have 20% larger wings that can be folded for storage.

5. Powered by General Electric twin engines

KF-21s are fitted with two General Electric F414-GE-400k turbofan engines, capable of producing 13,000 lbf of thrust each dry or 22,000 lbf each with afterburners. These engines allow the Boramae to reach a max speed of Mach 1.81.