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KAI prepares for KF-21 first-flight milestone

Korea Aerospace Industries is preparing a First Flight Readiness Review for its KF-21 multirole fighter aircraft (seen here in a computer-generated image). (Korea Aerospace Industries)

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is on track to conduct the first flight of its KF-21 Boramae multirole fighter aircraft, buoyed by the completed development of the platform's new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

A spokesperson from KAI told Janes on 21 February that the company is preparing a First Flight Readiness Review (FFRR) and is ensuring the preparedness of components and line-replaceable units (LRUs) for the event.

The KF-21's first flight is scheduled for July, the spokesperson confirmed.

The preparation process is supported by continuing flight trials, undertaken by the KF-21 Combined Test Team (CTT) comprising KAI, the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF), and the country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

The KAI spokesperson said that by June the CTT will be operating six flyable KF-21 prototypes and two structural prototypes for assessments. Of the six flyable aircraft, four are single-seat and two are twin-seat platforms.

“Following common but essential ground and avionics tests and check-outs, each flyable KF-21 prototype is performing different kinds of trials and evaluations,” said the KAI spokesperson. “For example, if prototype number one undertakes an engine-aircraft compatibility test, prototype number three will undertake a ground vibration test.”

However, following the first flight of the aircraft in July, the testing strategy will change. “After the KF-21's first flight, each prototype will have a different flight mission for evaluation,” said the KAI spokesperson without elaborating.

The spokesperson added that the development of an essential element of the new KF-21 fighter – its AESA radar – has been completed and is now undergoing extensive performance assessments.

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