[Source: Defense Acquisition Program Administration]
South Korea succeeded in the first flight test of its homegrown stealth aircraft KF-21 on Tuesday, moving a step closer to becoming the world’s 8th country with supersonic fighter jet development capability.
The KF-21 took off for its maiden flight at 3:40 p.m. from a runway at Air Force’s 3rd Flying Training Wing near Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) headquarters in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, Korea. The country’s first stealth combat aircraft flew for 30 to 40 minutes after takeoff and checked the performance before landing at 4:13 p.m. It flew at a speed of 400 kilometers per hour without going further to hypersonic speed.
The successful first test flight has raised hope that Korea could be the world’s eighth country to develop a homegrown fight jet capable of supersonic flight after the United States, Russia, China, Japan, France, Sweden, and Europe consortium (United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Spain).
The test flight comes 22 years after former president Kim Dae-jung ordered the country to develop advanced fighter jets with national technological assets in November 2000. It also comes 20 years after the military decided to upgrade combat aircraft to replace the KF-16 jet in 2002.
The state-run Defense Acquisition Program Administration launched its system development in January 2016 after signing an agreement with the country’s sole aircraft developer KAI in December 2015. The administration also went through business feasibility analysis, exploratory development, and requirement of capability (ROC) and quantity check.
By Han Ye-kyung and Lee Eun-joo
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