Philippine media reported that the Philippine Air Force is eyeing the South Korean KF-21 Boramae fighter
Although still dependent on the US “security umbrella” in the face of the growing threat from North Korea, South Korea is one of the world’s top arms exporters and is experiencing the fastest growth on the planet.
Korea Aerospace Industries on July 19 tested the prototype of the semi-stealth fighter KF-21 Boramae for the first time. Although the KF-21 Boramae is a domestic aircraft, it is designed based on the shape of the F-35 fighter of Lockheed Martin Corporation. The ROK Air Force plans to purchase 40 KF-21 Boramae by 2026 and increase to 120 by 2032 to replace the aging fleets of F-4 and F-5, and even fleet of F-16 and F- 15K belongs to the 4th generation.
Boramae is also expected to be Korea’s main export weapon in the near future. The first customer will most likely be the Philippines. Philippine media reported that the Philippine Air Force is eyeing the South Korean fighter, as one of the possible contenders for its multi-role fighter project. The PAF’s MRF project requires at least 12 units of fourth-generation fighters capable of integrating with existing radar systems and has a range of at least 250 nautical miles.
PAF spokesperson Col. Maynard Mariano said the PAF is closely monitoring the developments of the KF-21. “The PAF is monitoring this, we cannot close our options when there are new systems that may be able to compete with other systems and which may fit into our requirement for defense. In this day and age, the prototyping stage for any system can be done faster due to the available technology, and we might see it fielded soon,” Mariano said.
Mariano also expects the KF-21 to become a viable combat aircraft like the Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50PHs, which the PAF has around 12 in service. “Just like when we got the FA-50s, there were a lot of negative comments against it, but we proved to the critics that the system can be made combat ready and was actually proven in combat, he added.
The KF-21, which is also produced by KAI, is a South Korean fighter aircraft development program, with Indonesian involvement, with the goal of producing an advanced multi-role fighter for South Korea and Indonesia. The program is led by the South Korean government, which has 60 percent of the program’s shares. Indonesia took a 20 percent stake in the program in 2010, while the remaining 20 are held by private partners including KAI.
South Korea is expected to field the KF-21 by 2026. Its primary intended users are the Republic of Korea Air Force and the Indonesian Air Force. During the latest test, the jet was armed with four simulated Meteor air-to-air missiles and an infrared search and track system, and reached a speed of about 400 km/h. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said the test flight was “a splendid achievement in national defense independence.”
Hello KF-21 Boramae: Welcome To The Philippines