South Korea's homegrown KF-21 Boramae fighter will enter mass production from next year, officials from state arms procurement agency said Thursday.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) today briefed lawmakers during a session of the National Assembly's defense committee on the KF-21 development plan.
DAPA wants to ink the mass-production contract in the first half of 2024 after conducting a feasibility study on the production from May to August this year and finalizing the mass production plan in December.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff will conduct provisional combat suitability test on the KF-21 in May, running behind schedule by six months as DAPA has "optimized" testing and evaluation plans. These tests have been introduced to allow weapons developers to secure mass-production budgets even before prototypes meet all combat requirements in an effort to accelerate the overall production process.
The first KF-21 aircraft will join Republic of Korea Air Force’s (ROKAF) fighter fleet in the latter half of 2026.
Launched in 2015, the KF-21 project worth 8.8 trillion won ($6.77 billion) seeks to develop the 4.5th-generation fighter to replace the ROKAF's aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 jets waiting to be decommissioned following decades of service.