The South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has established a flight test aircraft (FTB) to verify and enhance the performance of the Korean fighter (KF-21) active electronic scanning phase array (AESA).
The tests are to begin next week and will go on for a year. The flight test is to mitigate the risks associated with the initial development of the AESA radar for fighter aircraft and to optimize the development software, a DAPA release said.
The test aircraft (FTB), is a modified Boeing 737 aircraft. In the flight test, about 62 items will be tested through a total of 50 flights, and design verification such as air-to-air mode detection and tracking function and performance tests and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image acquisition will be performed.
Acting deputy head of the Korean Fighter Projects Division at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (Air Force Colonel Noh Ji-man) said, “The performance of the KF-21 AESA radar will be more stable through a domestic flight test using a test aircraft.” He said, “We will make sure that the KF-21 AESA radar is successfully developed through continuous and close cooperation with relevant organizations such as the National Defense Science Research Institute and the Air Force.”
In the meantime, the Defense Science Research Institute has been supplementing the software through continuous testing and analysis after first producing the AESA radar verification prototype. The possibility of development has been reconfirmed.
The domestic test aircraft flight test, including development test and evaluation, will be conducted until April next year, and then, it will be installed on the KF-21 by the first half of '26 to conduct development and operation test and evaluation.
The KF-21’s AESA radar was developed locally, with Hanwha Systems providing the hardware and LIG Nex1 the software.
This marks the second flight campaign for the radar, which was unveiled in August 2020. Airborne tests of the KF-X’s AESA hardware systems, including the transmit-receive antenna and the power supply unit, took place in April 2019 in South Africa.