KAI KF-21 Boramae (KFX Korean Indigenous Fighter program)

I don't think urgency is one of them. Their first KF-21s would've arrived around the same time as Rafales anyway. But the problem is, they've opted for a less future proof design. They must be unhappy with what the Koreans had offered earlier, otherwise this decision doesn't make sense. I also remember reading about the US demanding some stuff from Ind because of their contribution to the project.

Anyway, nothing is certain yet and thus we can't speculate any further than this.

arrive at the same time as the Rafale does not mean it will arrive at the same capabilities. the KF-21 may enter service at the same time, but may need more years to further integrate the systems Indonesia wants.

For example, in the 2000s, the Rafale and F-15 competed for a South Korean contract. While the influence of the US is undeniable.. I clearly remember one reason why the South Koreans chose the F-15 was because the Rafale at that time, was still immature and not fully developed.. despite already being in service. The Koreans wanted something mature sooner.
 
I wonder what's going on behind the doors, since this Indonesian behaviour is really weird to me. They preferred a 20+ year old 4.5th gen with a full production backlog over a more future proof 4.5th gen, and I'm not even talking about their earlier "industrial participation" plans yet.

Something really weird snne, I do not know what to make of the Indonesian's governments situation right now with the KF-21 I do wish that they would sign on the dotted line and be done with it. Unless they are waiting for the Block 2 variant (the one with the internal weapons bays) that could be a possibility.

One thing for sure, Rafale has less strings attached compared to Boramae (that has strong US ties). We can utilize Rafale more.

About F15, Indonesia need air superiority heavy fighter. US also push Indonesia to balancing trade between them. And it might also has something to do with Indonesian next president.

View: https://twitter.com/BoeingDefense/status/1693795647428714515?s=19
 
Artist impression of (possible) export variants of KF-21

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KF-21 fighter jet successfully completes aerial refueling test​

View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UHYnoynMnj0&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fdefencehub.live%2F&source_ve_path=MjM4NTE&feature=emb_title

Korea's supersonic KF-21 fighter jet successfully completed an aerial refueling test expanding its operational radius for the first time on Tuesday.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced Tuesday that KF-21 prototype No. 5 took off from the 3rd training airfield in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang that morning and succeeded in an aerial refueling flight over waters off Korea's southeastern coast. The KF-21 fighter jet is set to be deployed in 2026.

The Air Force’s KC-330 tanker aircraft connected a refueling rod to the KF-21 and injected fuel into the fighter jet while flying.

The refueling test examined how turbulence during aerial refueling affects the operation of the KF-21, and whether the connection and separation of the tanker and the KF-21 can be done safely.

Aerial refueling increases the endurance time of a fighter jet by increasing how long it can fly and how many bombs it can carry.

“Although it can vary by timing and quantity, one aerial refueling is expected to increase the operational radius by about 50 percent," DAPA said Tuesday. “Aerial refueling can expand the operational radius and operating time of the KF-21, maximizing operational effects such as long-distance mission capabilities and the combat power of the Air Force.”

“We plan to continue verifying the KF-21’s aerial refueling capabilities at various altitudes and speeds about 60 times until March 2025,” said Noh Ji-man, head of the DAPA’s Korean fighter project division.

A total of six prototypes of the KF-21 have been built. They passed tests on assorted capabilities such as supersonic flight and air-to-air weapon separation to qualify as provisionally suitable for combat. The first production model of the KF-21 will be delivered to the Air Force in the first half of 2026.

The development project for the KF-21 was launched in 2015 jointly with Indonesia in order to develop a supersonic fighter jet to replace the Air Force’s F-4 and F-5 jets.

It hasn't been a smooth process for the jet. The police are currently investigating the alleged technology data theft related to the KF-21 after DAPA, the Defense Forces Counterintelligence Command and the National Intelligence Service jointly held an internal investigation into two Indonesian engineers involved in the project.

The engineers were first caught on Jan. 17 trying to leak KF-21 data by smuggling out a USB device from the KAI headquarters. The police stepped into the investigation on Feb. 22 and raided the Korean Aerospace Industries offices last week.

The two suspects are currently prohibited from leaving the country.

Indonesia promised to pay 20 percent, or $6.5 billion, of the funding for the KF-21, but Jakarta has been delaying payments.

DAPA reaffirmed on Tuesday that Indonesia must complete its payment for the project by 2026.

"There is no change in our stance," an official from DAPA said.
https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.co...fully-completes-aerial-refueling-test/2005920
 
Artist impression of (possible) export variants of KF-21

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The first one with the forest camo looks cool, but probably won't happen
the Polish one also looks cool and has that eastern-bloc vibe with the red numbers.
but probably also won't happen. their FA-50 looked largely the same as the Koreans, just with a false canopy on the bottom. the aircraft number and roundel are on the tail. no large red numbers like the old days
 
Those aircraft would have been a lot like early model Eurofighters anyway. If they can, might as well wait slightly longer and receive better planes thanks to sizeable F-35 fleet, though they still need to urgently replace those "death trap" F-5s. They might make it if they can somehow keep the F-5s flying but for how much longer remains to be seen.

It is a risk for sure; might be better to not cheap out than to lose pilots or give up short term capability.
 
Those aircraft would have been a lot like early model Eurofighters anyway. If they can, might as well wait slightly longer and receive better planes thanks to sizeable F-35 fleet, though they still need to urgently replace those "death trap" F-5s. They might make it if they can somehow keep the F-5s flying but for how much longer remains to be seen.

It is a risk for sure; might be better to not cheap out than to lose pilots or give up short term capability.
If they can make the Tranche 2s with internal bay sooner, it'd be worth it to only make 20 of the Tranche 1s.
 
aside from the internal weapon bays... has there been any talk on improving other aspects of its stealth in later iterations?
For example, the current KF-21 is missing a lot of serrated edges on the paneling. Things you find on the F-35, J-35, and the new Kaan.
Also the IRST, etc transitioning from a spherical shape to something similar to the F-35 or Kaan, or the engine nozzles.
 
aside from the internal weapon bays... has there been any talk on improving other aspects of its stealth in later iterations?
For example, the current KF-21 is missing a lot of serrated edges on the paneling. Things you find on the F-35, J-35, and the new Kaan.
Also the IRST, etc transitioning from a spherical shape to something similar to the F-35 or Kaan, or the engine nozzles.
I had assumed that was a given, as the one flying is not even an EMD plane, but something comparable to an XF22.
 
though they still need to urgently replace those "death trap" F-5s. They might make it if they can somehow keep the F-5s flying but for how much longer remains to be seen.

It is a risk for sure; might be better to not cheap out than to lose pilots or give up short term capability.

I thought they were already buying FA-50s to replace some of the F-4s and F-5s. Couldn't they order more FA-50s as a stopgap measure before the KF-21s are ready?
 
I had assumed that was a given, as the one flying is not even an EMD plane, but something comparable to an XF22.
I am not 100% sure, but it seems that the models being flown is in a stage thats closer to a production model than the YF-22 to the F-22.
It explains why KAI is able to start mass production soon, since there may not be any major changes for the first tranche.
 
aside from the internal weapon bays... has there been any talk on improving other aspects of its stealth in later iterations?
For example, the current KF-21 is missing a lot of serrated edges on the paneling. Things you find on the F-35, J-35, and the new Kaan.
Also the IRST, etc transitioning from a spherical shape to something similar to the F-35 or Kaan, or the engine nozzles.
The IRST window or the placement doesn't need to be exactly like Kaan's approach either.

people usually call it the "Chinese equivalent of the EOTS" but this is the how the Chinese solved this problem. The placement might be worse, I'm not sure; but assuming it flies high, it still has a decent angle of view.

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People also tend to forget how smooth the J-20's surface treatment is, just because it was China's first attempt at Low Observability. But it still turned out most impressive, it is capable enough to give the USAF top brass headaches from brainstorming how to effectively counter it in their situation.
 
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I thought they were already buying FA-50s to replace some of the F-4s and F-5s. Couldn't they order more FA-50s as a stopgap measure before the KF-21s are ready?
Yeah but I figured why buy more mediocre aircraft as a substitute to a modern replacement for F-4s and F-5s? The whole reason for KF-21 replacing those aircraft is because of the jump in capability; the only thing FA-50s have over those ancient aircraft is the airframe lifespan.
 
The IRST window or the placement doesn't need to be exactly like Kaan's approach either.

people usually call it the "Chinese equivalent of the EOTS" but this is the how the Chinese solved this problem. The placement might be worse, I'm not sure; but assuming it flies high, it still has a decent angle of view.

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People also tend to forget how smooth the J-20's surface treatment is, just because it was China's first attempt at Low Observability. But it still turned out most impressive, it is capable enough to give the USAF top brass headaches from brainstorming how to effectively counter it in their situation.
The USAF top brass isn't having headaches over it. In fact, they're just not that concerned about it. It is a threat, but not one they can't easily deal with. It isn't anywhere near the level of LO or systems tech in the Raptor or Lightning.
 
The USAF top brass isn't having headaches over it. In fact, they're just not that concerned about it. It is a threat, but not one they can't easily deal with. It isn't anywhere near the level of LO or systems tech in the Raptor or Lightning.
I'd still put it well above the Su-57.
 
The USAF top brass isn't having headaches over it. In fact, they're just not that concerned about it. It is a threat, but not one they can't easily deal with. It isn't anywhere near the level of LO or systems tech in the Raptor or Lightning.
Why the CCA program then? Why rush the NGAD and still buy an excessive amount of F-35s, "50 year old" F-15EXs and still keep F-16s? Why hunt for new Pacific outposts and design LO tanker drones if they're "not concerned about it"? Yes, J-20's not the only threat in the system of systems but it's the tip of the spear.
 
Those aircraft would have been a lot like early model Eurofighters anyway. If they can, might as well wait slightly longer and receive better planes thanks to sizeable F-35 fleet, though they still need to urgently replace those "death trap" F-5s. They might make it if they can somehow keep the F-5s flying but for how much longer remains to be seen.

It is a risk for sure; might be better to not cheap out than to lose pilots or give up short term capability.
As the article outlined, this is not a postponement of the further 20 aircraft into the second batch production (20 block 1 + 100 block 2). Instead it's what's described as 20 + 20 contract. All 40 aircraft will be block 1 standard and will be produced within the original batch 1 production timeframe of 2026 ~ 2028. It's only the contract that is split up.

Obviously, shall there be any delays with systems verification and stores qualification, the second contract itself will be delayed as wrll, but that's to be seen.
 
If they can make the Tranche 2s with internal bay sooner, it'd be worth it to only make 20 of the Tranche 1s.

No.

The thing is, that is not the case. Like I've mentioned a few time in this thread, there is no change to the hardware between block 1 and 2. The only difference between the two are the amount of integrated weapons and some software upgrades for strike mission configuration. Nothing else. All that a block 1 aircraft needs is a software update, and it's an exactly same aircraft to block 2.

The difference between the two versions are not something as radical as the differences between Rafale Standard F1 and F2 or Eurofighter Tranche 1 and Tranche 2.
 
aside from the internal weapon bays... has there been any talk on improving other aspects of its stealth in later iterations?
For example, the current KF-21 is missing a lot of serrated edges on the paneling. Things you find on the F-35, J-35, and the new Kaan.
Also the IRST, etc transitioning from a spherical shape to something similar to the F-35 or Kaan, or the engine nozzles.

View attachment 705654

KAL Aerospace presentation material from KODEF seminar earlier this year (02.2023). Current focus of KF-21 block 3 programme, as conveyed before, lies on unmanned teaming and Korean aerial system of systems. Note that block 3 programme details, including the decision on whether or not they will actually implement IWB on KF-21, is still undecided.

From what I've heard, ADD and its partners are pushing for IWB implementation whereas KAI wants to take the safe (and cheaper) route and instead use that space to integrate new avionics (akin to how F-22 got new avionics installed in later blocks in the empty spaces inside forward fuselage section, which was supposed to house AIRST and side looking radars during the earlier days of ATF). ROKAF, who has most say on the matter, currently seems undecided. They are currently issuing external preliminary research tenders to study future air power needs and next generation fighter capabilities, so we'll get to know what they exactly want sooner or later.

Even if KAI doesn't want to take risk, they've got no other choice than to fulfill what the ROKAF wants afterall. One might remember that KAI once proposed a single-engined fighter design, the C501, which the ROKAF vehemently opposed in favor of ADD's twin-engined C103, so I don't think it's far fetched to say that history would repeat itself (I've talked about this in more detail a few pages back).

Regarding the details of the individual UAS components, there's a separate thread for Korean UCAV programmes : https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/republic-of-korea-ucav-programs.9182/
 
Why the CCA program then? Why rush the NGAD and still buy an excessive amount of F-35s, "50 year old" F-15EXs and still keep F-16s? Why hunt for new Pacific outposts and design LO tanker drones if they're "not concerned about it"? Yes, J-20's not the only threat in the system of systems but it's the tip of the spear.
Because the F-22s are old and don't have the range the USAF wants. Technology always moves on. Apparently you didn't know this, but before China had the J-20, we built F-22s because the F-15s were getting old. It's what we do.
 
Because the F-22s are old and don't have the range the USAF wants. Technology always moves on. Apparently you didn't know this, but before China had the J-20, we built F-22s because the F-15s were getting old. It's what we do.
What you're describing is the NGAD. But if there's nothing the J-20 makes you worry about, why then rush NGAD and try to have it in service ASAP? Why try to one up on China; why do everything I've listed above in my previous post if it's indeed no biggie?

I've listed you numerous reasons why and you could only answer with "F-22 old"; this just shows me how limited your understanding of the topic is.

It isn't just about replacing the old tech and keeping up with the new, there's so much more to it than you can apparently grasp.
 
@Maro.Kyo Which Batch is getting the internal weapons bay installed, then?

Because my understanding was Batch 1 was still using conformal carriage.
 
Why the CCA program then? Why rush the NGAD and still buy an excessive amount of F-35s, "50 year old" F-15EXs and still keep F-16s? Why hunt for new Pacific outposts and design LO tanker drones if they're "not concerned about it"? Yes, J-20's not the only threat in the system of systems but it's the tip of the spear.
'Cause f-22 production line ended. Restarting it would cost massive amount just to started and you basically gonna hollow it out for newer systems anyway given many of the systems are too exotic and not as efficient as what's available now. F-35 is a jack of all trades. USAF doesn't have confidence it can have overwhelming superiority for the next 50 years by just upgrading its software.

Remember, objective is deterrence, which means you have to have something so overwhelmingly superior it discourage your enemy from even starting a conflict. Waiting around for the Chinese to eventually achieve parity or near parity is not an option.
 
'Cause f-22 production line ended. Restarting it would cost massive amount just to started and you basically gonna hollow it out for newer systems anyway given many of the systems are too exotic and not as efficient as what's available now. F-35 is a jack of all trades. USAF doesn't have confidence it can have overwhelming superiority for the next 50 years by just upgrading its software.

Remember, objective is deterrence, which means you have to have something so overwhelmingly superior it discourage your enemy from even starting a conflict. Waiting around for the Chinese to eventually achieve parity or near parity is not an option.
In the tactical sense they've already achieved parity though, they have no global ambitions and have the home field advantage, they don't need to field the same amount of excessive fighters as the US does but even then thaat makes up a modern fighter fleet of ~1700 aircraft. As an example, they have more AESA-equipped fighters than the full combined fighter force of European NATO. They procure roughly ~160 J-20s and Flankers (+30 smth J-10C) each year, and the number's only gonna ramp up as the J-35 and the new production plant at XAC become online.

The only gap that's left is in the strategic (transport, tanker and bomber) fleet, and capability-wise that's going to take roughly 15 years to fully reach parity.

Anyway, this is the Kf-21 thread and I've said my final words to you.
 
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In the tactical sense they've already achieved parity though, they have no global ambitions and have the home field advantage, they don't need to field the same amount of excessive fighters as the US does but even then thaat makes up a modern fighter fleet of ~1700 aircraft. As an example, they have more AESA-equipped fighters than the combined force of European NATO. They procure roughly ~160 J-20s and Flankers (+30 smth J-10C) each year, and the number's only gonna ramp up as the J-35 and the new production plant at XAC become online.

The only gap that's left is in the strategic (transport, tanker and bomber) fleet, and capability-wise that's going to take roughly 15 years to fully reach parity.

Anyway, this is the Kf-21 thread and I've said my final words to you.
k then you can just read. or respond via DM. I think it's relevant given the context. Kf-21 wasn't born out of the fear of losing air superiority to north Korea. In a tactical sense they absolutely do not have the home field advantage. US has no plan of invading china. It only need to sink enough amphibious ships trying to reach Taiwan. US is turning every rocket missile and glide bomb and possibly artillery glide shells into precision anti warship deterrence (GA already working on it). Not to mention the arsenal Japan Australia Korea are beginning to build up to support US in such scenario.
 
@Maro.Kyo Which Batch is getting the internal weapons bay installed, then?

Because my understanding was Batch 1 was still using conformal carriage.

If ever, block 3, and regarding block 3, I've linked a post above that is still true just yet.
View attachment 705654

KAL Aerospace presentation material from KODEF seminar earlier this year (02.2023). Current focus of KF-21 block 3 programme, as conveyed before, lies on unmanned teaming and Korean aerial system of systems. Note that block 3 programme details, including the decision on whether or not they will actually implement IWB on KF-21, is still undecided.

From what I've heard, ADD and its partners are pushing for IWB implementation whereas KAI wants to take the safe (and cheaper) route and instead use that space to integrate new avionics (akin to how F-22 got new avionics installed in later blocks in the empty spaces inside forward fuselage section, which was supposed to house AIRST and side looking radars during the earlier days of ATF). ROKAF, who has most say on the matter, currently seems undecided. They are currently issuing external preliminary research tenders to study future air power needs and next generation fighter capabilities, so we'll get to know what they exactly want sooner or later.

Even if KAI doesn't want to take risk, they've got no other choice than to fulfill what the ROKAF wants afterall. One might remember that KAI once proposed a single-engined fighter design, the C501, which the ROKAF vehemently opposed in favor of ADD's twin-engined C103, so I don't think it's far fetched to say that history would repeat itself (I've talked about this in more detail a few pages back).

Regarding the details of the individual UAS components, there's a separate thread for Korean UCAV programmes : https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/republic-of-korea-ucav-programs.9182/
 
@Maro.Kyo Which Batch is getting the internal weapons bay installed, then?

Because my understanding was Batch 1 was still using conformal carriage.

In KAI roadmap (2023) is Blk 3.

but the interesting thing is, Air Force had stated in the 2022 conference that Blk 4 would be equipped with internal weapons bay and the full stealth. not Blk 3.

완전한 스텔스(내부무장 등) = full stealth(internal weapons bay , etc.)
제한된 스텔스기능확보(전파흡수 물질 추가) = Securing limited stealth function (adding Radar absorbing materials)

1712153418856.png
 
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In KAI roadmap (2023) is Blk 3.

but the interesting thing is, Air Force had stated in the 2022 conference that Blk 4 would be equipped with internal weapons bay and the full stealth. not Blk 3.

완전한 스텔스(내부무장 등) = full stealth(internal weapons bay , etc.)
제한된 스텔스기능확보(전파흡수 물질 추가) = Securing limited stealth function (adding Radar absorbing materials)

View attachment 724452

That's stage 4 of future ROKAF fighter capabilities expansion and points toward a clean sheet 6th gen design, not "block 4". Also, as I linked above, even by 2023 there were still conflicting opinions regarding what the block 3 is supposed to be, including if it should be improved LO or actual VLO.
Parallel to this new Block 3 plans the ROKAF is considering a separate 5.5th ~ 6th gen fighter aircraft based on the enlarged KF-X design called the KF-XX powered by a Korean engine. Although based on KF-21, the design is expected to be almost clean sheet, akin to the legacy Hornet - Super Hornet development and design relationship. Block 3 is being considered as a technological bridging between the 4.5th gen KF-21 Block 2 and a next gen KF-XX, similar to Rafale Standard F5 or Eurofighter beyond T4.

Unfortunately the first hand sources are from ROKAF seminar which was not public, but there's a video where the ROKAF Deputy Chief of Staff was interviewed regarding this exact matter. I'll post the key points with bits of translation soon.
View attachment 695901
(translated and edited by myself from the original KAI presentation slide)

There was a KAI presentation regarding business models and near-future investment plans. One of the covered topics was the KF-21 Block III and future 6th gen fighter development for KF-16U replacement.

As I've mentioned before, the ROKAF's preliminary plans for replacing the upgraded Vipers is not to go with KF-21 Block III but instead with an enlarged, 6th gen figher jet. Nothing much to talk about regarding this program since its too early. They've also disclosed what they are envisioning for the KF-21 upgrade (Block III); to some people's disappointment, ROKAF wasn't looking for internal weapons bay or VLO-ization of KF-21 but instead their main focus lay on NCW.

What's interesting is that this new presentation from KAI is pointing otherwise. KAI's vision of KF-21 block III seems closer to a full-fledged 5th gen fighter based on the existing KF-21 block II, as it was promised from the beginning. I'm not sure in which direction the project will proceed, but a few things are clear. For one both the military and the industry are already preparing the block III upgrade program for KF-21 to follow up on Block II program that will end by 2028. On the other hand there seems to be different proposals regarding what this Block III should be and as I've mentioned before, a 5th gen VLO model isn't abandoned just yet it seems. We'll see where it goes.

Another thing to point out is KAI's own UCAV project fueled with corporate funding. As some of you'll know, there are currently two stealth UCAV programs, the KUS-FC (VLO flying wing reconnaissance and strike, X-47B/nEUROn/Taranis lookalike) and KUS-LW (tactical wingman drone, Ghost Bat/Valkyrie lookalike). They are both KAL project since KAI lost out on the bid for the preceding program called the KUS-X. Though I don't think it's a given that they really will actually proceed with corporate funded programs, though several cases around the world may have helped making them think that there's a business case here.
 
What you're describing is the NGAD. But if there's nothing the J-20 makes you worry about, why then rush NGAD and try to have it in service ASAP? Why try to one up on China; why do everything I've listed above in my previous post if it's indeed no biggie?

I've listed you numerous reasons why and you could only answer with "F-22 old"; this just shows me how limited your understanding of the topic is.

It isn't just about replacing the old tech and keeping up with the new, there's so much more to it than you can apparently grasp.
It is about replacing old. The J-20 didn't even exist as a fanboi sketch in 1985. But the USSR already had the Flanker and Fulcrum in production and were starting research on the next gen. That's what the ATF (F-22) was designed to beat. it was designed for the European theater. NGAD is being built because we didn't buy enough F-22s, the F-22 doesn't have the range for the Pacific theater, and technology has advanced. It's been over three decades since the YF-22 flew.
 

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