South Korea Opens Talks to Export KF-21 Jets to the Philippines

Discussions were held at DSA-2024 in Malaysia from May 6 to 9.
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  • 06:39 AM, May 13, 2024
  • 2622
South Korea Opens Talks to Export KF-21 Jets to the Philippines
KF-21 Boramae @KAI

A South Korean delegation attending the DSA-2024 event in Malaysia last week engaged with their counterparts from the Philippines to explore the potential export of the KF-21 fighter jet and submarines, in addition to discussing an increased procurement of FA-50 fighters.

According to an official statement by DAPA, specific cooperation measures aligned with the Philippines' three-stage military modernization plan were deliberated with key Philippine officials. The focus was particularly on the KF-21, FA-50, and submarines, which have piqued the interest of the Philippines.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is considering the KF-21 "Boramae" as a contender for its multi-role fighter (MRF) project. Colonel Maynard Mariano, PAF spokesperson, emphasized in August 2022 that the KF-21's features make it a potential fit for the MRF project.

Mariano highlighted back then that the PAF is closely monitoring developments, keeping its options open for systems that align with defense requirements, especially considering advancements in technology that expedite the prototyping stage.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) openly advocated for the KF-21 during the Philippine Air Force Symposium in June 2023. KAI emphasized the KF-21's potential evolution towards fifth/sixth-generation capabilities and its life cycle cost, crucial given budget constraints in the PAF's modernization efforts.

KAI's presentation underscored the KF-21's advantages, such as less restrictive export controls, customizable configurations, and flexibility in weapon integration based on customer preferences. Furthermore, KAI expressed readiness for long-term partnerships, including joint technology production and transfer with prospective KF-21 buyers.

The KF-21 is expected to commence full production by 2026, with an initial delivery of 40 aircraft by 2028. South Korea aims to operate a fleet of 120 KF-21 aircraft by 2032.

Described by South Korea as stealthier than any currently operational fourth-generation fighter, the KF-21 falls into the 4.5 generation category. It boasts a maximum speed of 1,400 miles per hour (1,216 knots) and a combat range of 620 miles (540 nautical miles).

Armed with a 20mm rotary autocannon and equipped with 10 hardpoints for various missiles and bombs, the KF-21 underwent its maiden flight in July 2022 after the unveiling of the first prototype at KAI headquarters in April 2021.

The Philippines previously procured 12 FA-50s from Korea Aerospace Industries for PHP 18.9 billion, with deliveries spanning from 2015 to 2017. At DSA-2024, talks were held on the potential export of additional FA-50s to the Philippines as well as Malaysia.

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