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DX Korea 2022: KAI outlines plan to develop carrierborne KF-21N fighter

KAI has proposed the development of the carrierborne KF-21N, a version of the KF-21 fighter aircraft that completed its first test flight in July. (Jon Grevatt/Janes)

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has disclosed plans to develop a carrierborne version of its KF-21 fighter aircraft. A model of the KF-21N was unveiled at the DX Korea 2022 exhibition, being held in Goyang from 21 to 25 September.

The company told Janes that the development programme is dependent on the Republic of Korea Navy's (RoKN's) plans to procure an aircraft carrier large enough to operate fighter aircraft. However, the company said that should a requirement be identified, KAI would be able to build the KF-21N in a few years.

β€œThe KF-21N would require wings that are 20% larger than those on the KF-21 to ensure safety and stabilisation of the aircraft when taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier. The KF-21N would also require the development and integration of a catapult system and other structural changes,” said a KAI official.

The KF-21 model displayed at DX Korea was also integrated with hypersonic long-range air-to-surface missiles, which Janes understands are being developed by South Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD). KAI provided no details about the missiles at the time of publication.

According to KAI, the KF-21N would be fitted with two General Electric F414 engines, which are also integrated onto the baseline KF-21. The aircraft would also feature folding wings and could feasibly be adapted for either short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) or catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) aircraft carriers.

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