The first jet fighter christened "KF-21 Boramae (Young Hawk)" made its 33-minute maiden flight on July 19, 2022, in a closed event on a military runway in the southern city of Sacheon, the home base of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the sole aircraft maker in South Korea. According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), Boramae carried out some 80 test flights to fly at different altitudes and speeds.
DAPA said that Boramae took off from the military airbase in Sacheon at 14:58 p.m. (0558 GMT) on January 17 to reach an altitude of 40,000 feet (12.19 kilometers) and fly at the speed of Mach 1 (1,224 kilometers per hour). The whole test flight took about 56 minutes. The arms procurement agency said that the test supersonic flight proved that KF-21's hull and wing structures were able to stably maintain their integrity under supersonic flight conditions.
"We were able to achieve a historic milestone of owning a homemade supersonic airplane thanks to the devotion and effort of countless people," Defense Minister Lee Jong-sub said in a statement on January 17. DAPA said that the agency will continue to test the limits of Boramae by increasing the altitude of test flights.
The KF-21 project is aimed at manufacturing 120 fighter jets that would replace South Korea's aging fleet of US-made F-4 and F-5 fighters. Specifications outlined by KAI showed that the fighter's maximum speed is Mach 1.81 with its range put at 2,900 km. With a maximum payload of 7.7 tons, 10 "pods" for missiles and fuel barrels are installed on the bottom of the fuselage and wings.
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