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Weapons on Korean fighter jet ready by 2028

A prototype of South Korea’s first homegrown fighter jet, the KF-21 Boramae, is revealed to the public, April 9, 2021. (Defense Acquisition Program Administration)
A prototype of South Korea’s first homegrown fighter jet, the KF-21 Boramae, is revealed to the public, April 9, 2021. (Defense Acquisition Program Administration)
South Korea’s first homegrown fighter jet, the KF-21 Boramae, will be ready to fly with weapons aboard by 2028, the arms procurement agency said Sunday.

“We will come up with air-to-air missiles by 2026 and air-to-surface missiles by 2028,” the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said.

The fighter jet, whose prototype was revealed to the public Friday, will have to go through flight tests through 2026 and become combat ready by 2032. It provides an opportunity for Korea to expand local weapons systems to mount on the warplane, the agency added.

A prototype South Korea’s first homegrown fighter jet, the KF-21 Boramae, is revealed to the public, April 9, 2021. (Defense Acquisition Program Administration)
A prototype South Korea’s first homegrown fighter jet, the KF-21 Boramae, is revealed to the public, April 9, 2021. (Defense Acquisition Program Administration)
But critics warn against rosy expectations of the plan localizing armament systems, as glitches could affect the deadline. They say the agency would have to lower the break-even point for the jet program eyeing exports because a warplane without weapons would be a hard sell.

Critics add that the program, for which Indonesia is the only outside partner, seeking a 20 percent stake and technology know-how, is still in doubt as the Southeast Asian country keeps sitting on its contribution to the joint project.

Indonesia, which has paid only 13 percent of what it owes, has reportedly asked Korea to cut its burden in half or approve a loan for its contribution. Korea denies that it has received any such request from Indonesia.

The arms procurement agency said the two countries are in talks over the dispute and that it cannot disclose details about the progress.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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