Why does Seoul's order for the first batch of 20 KF-21 Boramae threaten the European aviation industry?

The South Korean defense industry is preparing to take the plunge and enter the international scene with its medium-generation KF-21 Boramae medium fighter, as it previously did for armored vehicles, with the K2 tank and the IFV AS21, artillery with the K9, submarines with the KSS-III, and missiles.

Indeed, the South Korean government has just signed the first order for 20 KF-21 Boramae Block 1 twin-engine fighters for the South Korean air force, paving the way for the commercialization of the aircraft on the international scene.

Even if, or perhaps because of the reasonable technological ambitions of this program, the Boramae presents all the characteristics of a balanced and attractive multi-purpose fighter, which could, quickly, carve out significant market shares on the international market, reproducing the successes of South Korean armor and artillery systems, which regularly prevail in competitions against Western equipment, particularly European equipment.

9 years after the launch of the KFX program, the South Korean Air Force orders the first 20 KF-21 Boramae Block 1

The KF-21 Boramae is based, above all, on a program carried out in a particularly effective manner by the South Korean aircraft manufacturer KAI and the national innovation agency DAPA.

Two-seat KF-21 Boramae
Why does Seoul's order for the first batch of 20 KF-21 Boramae threaten the European aviation industry? 4

Indeed, it only took 9 years and $8 billion, between the launch of the KFX program, and ordering the first 20 series devices, to be delivered in 2025 and 2026. It comes, moreover, only two years later the first flight of the demonstrator, followed since by five other prototypes, including two two-seaters, having logged several hundred flight hours during the test program.

It only took one year, from the first flight of the Boramae, for the fighter to satisfy a first operational capacity, and only three years, between the first flight and the delivery of the first production aircraft to the South Korean air force.

16,9 meters long and 11,2 meters wingspan, the Boramae has an empty mass of 11,8 tonnes and a maximum take-off mass of 25,5 tonnes, putting it in the category of Rafale, Typhoon and the Super Hornet. It is powered by two American F-414-GE-400K turbojets co-developed by General Electric and Hanwha Defense, assembled in South Korea, and each developing 58 KN and 98 KN with afterburner.

The fighter has excellent performance, with a maximum speed above Mach 1.8 and a combat range of 1000 km. It has modern avionics, with an AESA radar, an IRST and an electronic warfare suite, and can carry numerous munitions under its 10 hardpoints, including the Meteor, AMRAAM, IRIS-T and Sidewinder AIM-9X, the Taurus cruise missile, the Harpoon anti-ship missile and various guided bombs.

Although not stealthy and lacking an ammunition bay, the Boramae is a discreet aircraft. It must, moreover, evolve in the future towards a more advanced, stealthier version, with a fusion of data and extensive sensors, to make it a 5th generation aircraft.

A total requirement of 120 KF-21 Boramae to replace South Korean F-4s and F-5s

The KF-21 Boramae was designed by KAI and DAPA to meet the modernization needs of the South Korean air forces, and in particular to replace 80 F-5E Tiger IIs still in service, as well as the F-4 Phantom IIs, withdrawn from service this year.

F-5 South Korean Air Force
Why does Seoul's order for the first batch of 20 KF-21 Boramae threaten the European aviation industry? 5

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3 Comments

  1. Between the Boromae, the doubts about the NGAD, the relaunch of high-performance US drones, the arrival of Turkish jet drones, the glaring needs of Sweden and the need to massify the air forces, we have an interesting set of clues . This may be the moment for boldness: either a combat drone or a light fighter, suitable for SEAD. If the combat drone, although having a lower operating cost, is infeasible for the moment, due to the lack of maturity of AI and the lack of engineers, why not a light fighter?
    If we do not want light fighters, then we will have to return to the idea of ​​surface-to-surface missiles and rockets with more expensive consumables and in greater numbers to compensate for the lack of versatility.

  2. Certainly. Certainly.

    What if we compared this very interesting article to those of the same author relating, unless I am mistaken, to cooperation between Korea and Indonesia in terms of submarines with which it seems that the latter are not very satisfied? The success of an industry like military aeronautics seems to be measured by customer loyalty over a long period,
    is not it?

    The ambitions of Korean industry are the same as the "immense prospects of German rearmament": we are waiting to see what the reality will be beyond the remarks on the stage or at the end of the banquet.

    As for the "enormous" German budgetary resources, the taxpayer would like them to finally be devoted to the maintenance and renovation of infrastructures which are apparently in a deplorable state... moreover the accelerated aging of the German population - like voters- should probably direct public funding towards the overall care of this population rather than towards the army, whatever the lobbying of the German military-industrial complex

    I think that many commentators or analysts systematically underestimate the weight and influence of demographic factors: both Germany and Korea are threatened more by self-destruction through low birth rates than by warlike neighbors...

  3. Korea is a very large industrial country and it is clear that there is very serious competition for the other BITD, Fr and All in particular and in the terrestrial
    It is far too early to see Boromae as a competitor for the Rafale.His successor in 10 years probably/surely
    The Koreans integrated existing bricks 10 years late (GE engine, Israeli Radar and Nav system, IRST UK/Ita, various and varied systems representing more than 60% at least of the value. It is efficient, fast and economical. Nothing to do with an entirely aircraft, armament included ITAR free
    South Korea is quite “reserved” on the South China Sea with the paradox of being under the US umbrella but under Chinese influence (industrial hinterland and sole moderator of the N Koreans). This explains their absence from the PH, the rejection of Indonesians for the most part
    Exporting this aircraft in such a context will be difficult. In Europe, the place is taken by LM. The rest is India, SE Asia, and MO. Selling an Americano, Israeli, UK/It plane by a country under Chinese influence will be "difficult" moreover the solvent and prudent countries (Greece, Gulf, Indonesia looks at the Us and the Fr
    You might as well buy an F15 or an F35 directly, you have the umbrella too, maybe, who knows?

    On the soums rejected in Indonesia, with a lot of public recriminations and a lot of contempt on the part of the Koreans, we must look at the technical realities. The KSSIII are “second strike” platforms like the Dolphins ISR. There is surely a military N program in South Korea Nothing very difficult for this country with high N competence, and the non-public understanding that the “eternal alliances” are... what they are in History facing North Korea
    The KSS III with AIP, license (export authorized by TKMS? refused in India..) potbellied for the missiles will remain in the parking lot or to circle in the water, a fairly specific need. But they could have oceanic successors if NG does not follow through on its policy
    the Koreans like the Japanese do not have the culture or experience of the local fab (India, Indonesia, Brazil, Australia...They will be at the mercy of policies defending jobs and the rise of Indus skills.
    This is also what the sale of soum is from now on

    The real exercise of land armaments in Europe is the result of a unique opportunity: equipment of very good quality, economical and available in volume due to their military situation. Identical scheme for Isr missiles.
    This situation will evolve in 10/15 years and knowing the Koreans I have no doubt

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