The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) unveiled a video on YouTube showing the prototype firing a short-range missile called "AIM-2000" over the South Sea. No abnormalities were detected during the flight of the missile at a maximum speed of 3,675 kilometers per hour. This is the first time the prototype of KF-21 has succeeded in firing a missile mounted on the fighter jet's fuselage. The state arms procurement agency earlier succeeded in firing a missile from the fighter jet's pylon.
"We will try our best to successfully develop the KF-21, which will play a key role in protecting South Korea's airspace," DAPA said in a YouTube video uploaded on April 5. The agency will verify additional tests by firing a machine gun and separating weapons at different altitudes.
After the first KF-21 flight in July 2022, some 150 test flights were conducted. Through the KF-21 project, South Korea hopes to manufacture 120 fighter jets that would replace the country's aging fleet of U.S.-made F-4 and F-5 fighters. The previous tests have proved the fighter jet's supersonic flight capabilities and active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars capable of detecting a target object and collecting various information such as distance and speed to the target area.
According to specifications outlined by KAI, the fighter's maximum speed is Mach 1.81 with its range standing at 2,900 kilometers. About 8.8 trillion won ($6.6 billion) would be injected by 2028. The project, led by Korea Aerospace Industries, the sole aircraft maker in South Korea, started in 2010 in collaboration with Indonesia to develop an advanced multi-role fighter jet. Initially, Indonesia agreed to pay about 1.6 trillion won by 2026 in exchange for a number of fighter planes to be manufactured in the Southeast Asian country with technology transfers. However, Indonesia has failed to pay 800 billion won, part of its 20 percent share of the total development costs.
The country resumed the payment in November 2022. At a media briefing held in Seoul in February 2023, Indonesian Ambassador to South Korea Gandi Sulistiyanto said his government will continue to take part in the joint project since the financial problem was resolved.
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