The KF-21 Boramae is expected to replace the outdated F-4E Phantom II and F-5E Tiger, which are currently the main fighters of the South Korean air force.

In addition to serving the South Korean air force, the KF-21 is expected to be exported. Potential customers could be Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, or even Iraq.

The KF-21 is not classified as a fifth generation fighter such as the F-22/35, J-20 or Su-57, but rather a 4++ generation. The airframe is stealthier than other 4th generation fighters, but does not carry weapons in one or more internal bays like 5th generation fighters.

KF-21 Boramae
KF-21 Boramae

Although the engine and stealth capabilities are not as advanced as the F-35, the KF-21’s advantages are lower operating costs, easier maintenance, and a lower price. The KF-21 is faster and can operate at higher altitudes than the F-16 and F-35, and can carry a wide range of advanced munitions. The most notable weapon of the KF-21 is a Korean version of the Taurus Long-Range Air-to-Surface Missile, one of the most powerful missiles in the world currently deployed by the F-15K fighter. Additionally it can be armed with the Meteor long-range air-to-air missile, with a range almost double the AIM-120’s currently used by the F-35.

The KF-21 is believed to be compatible with American missiles, meaning it can integrate the long-range AIM-260 air-to-air missile, which is expected to begin service by the end of the decade. These missiles are faster, more flexible, longer range, more reliable, and are cheaper than Meteor.

The success of the Korean defense industry has been proven with high-performance and cost-effective weapon systems, such as the K9 Thunder self-propelled gun, the K2 Black Panther main battle tank, or F/A-50 fighter, and Hyunmoo-3 cruise missile, the KF-21 is expected to be one of the most successful fighter programs in the world.

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