South Korea’s KF-21 fighter has received a combat certificate, with the go-ahead for mass manufacturing of the jet.
On May 15, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced it “obtained a provisional suitability for combat judgment, which is a major procedure for the start of the first mass production next year.”
This is a procedure for promoting mass production during R&D for the rapid electrification of weapon systems that take a long time from development to initial production, such as aircraft and ships. It has also been applied to the development of advanced trainer aircraft (T-50), DAPA said in a statement.
KF-21 carried out ground test and flight test in parallel after the release of the first prototype on April 21, verifying durability, noise and vibration and structural integrity. Active electronically scanned array (AESA) tests such as performance verification of advanced avionics equipment such as radar and air-to-air weapons separation test were conducted. Through various ground tests and about 200 flight tests over about two years, verification of about 260 test items such as aircraft speed, combat radius, flight, and landing distance was successfully performed.
With the acquisition of the 'Suitable for Provisional Combat' test, conditions have been prepared for next year's first mass production plan to proceed without a hitch, the arms procurement agency said.
In the future, follow-up test evaluation will be carried out to continuously test the flight range expansion and avionics performance, and air refueling , air-to-air missile guided launch , and electronic warfare equipment will be finally judged as ' suitable for combat ' in 2026 . The first mass production of the KF-21 will begin in earnest from next year and will be delivered to the Air Force from the second half of 2026.