While everything suggested a few weeks ago that Seoul had abandoned the idea of acquiring an aircraft carrier , the declarations of the South Korean Chief of Staff, General Kim Seung-kyum, on 19 September , gave new luster to this ambition. Not only was the program not abandoned, but Seoul would now consider acquiring a larger ship, of the order of 60,000 tonnes, with the possibility of relying on a foreign partner to build the building. In addition, where the initial CVX was to implement 16 American F-35Bs, the new South Korean ship could, for its part, carry a naval version of the new KF-21 Boramae fighter designed by KAI, and which made its first flight this summer. It only took a few days for this hypothesis to take shape at the Defense Expo 2022 exhibition in Goyang in the suburbs of Seoul, KAI having presented a model of the KF-21N, the on-board naval version of its aircraft.
The South Korean manufacturer clarified, during the presentation of this model, that this was only a concept of what a version of the Boramae could be intended to embark on board a possible future carrier. South Korean aircraft, a way of saying that to date, no order or contract has been officially signed to develop such an aircraft by the country's authorities. However, the model presented is in no way a simple KF-21 equipped with a landing hook and a reinforced landing gear. Indeed, the aircraft seems to have understood the constraints represented by the design and implementation of such a device.
Thus, the KF-21N is more imposing than the land version, with a length of 17.1 meters, 30 cm longer, and a wingspan of 12.3 meters compared to 11.2 for the initial version, giving the KF-21N a 20% larger wing surface. The wings, in fact, can be folded to a length of approximately 1 meter, making it possible to reduce the footprint of the aircraft, an appreciable characteristic in the cramped hangars of an aircraft carrier. The KF-21N would be powered by two GE F-414s like the land version, and the maximum takeoff weight would be identical between the two versions, even if the empty weight is slightly higher for the naval version. Finally, the device is presented with a reinforced train allowing catapulting using a steam catapult or American Emals, and a landing stock which seems very light for a device of this mass. It should be noted in this respect that the ground clearance of the aircraft has been significantly increased, the height of the KF-21N exceeding that of the Boramae by 50 cm.
The rest of this article is reserved for subscribers -
Classic subscriptions give access to all Flash articles, Analyzes and Syntheses, without advertising , from €1.99.
Premium subscriptions also provide access to articles over two years old in the archive, as well as advanced research tools , and to publish two press releases or job offers per month for free in the Partners section ( + Push social networks / application).