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KF-21 completes first successful aerial refuelling test

The fifth KAI KF-21 prototype takes on fuel from a Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) on 19 March 2024. This image is a screenshot from a Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) video of the event. (DAPA)

The Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-21 Boramae has successfully completed its first in-flight refuelling (IFR) test.

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said the milestone was set by the fifth KF-21 prototype on 19 March. The aircraft “took off from the runway of the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) 3rd Flying Training Wing at Sacheon at 0945 h [local time] … and successfully performed an aerial refuelling flight over the South Sea”, DAPA said.

A RoKAF Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft was used to refuel the KF-21 using its Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), DAPA added.

According to the agency, efforts to successfully integrate the KF-21 with the A330 MRTT were started on 8 March with a preliminary inspection of control characteristics between the A330 MRRT's refuelling boom and the KF-21 fuel-receiving port.

“During the flight test, we focused on confirming and evaluating the impact of turbulence occurring behind the aerial refuelling tanker on the KF-21,” DAPA said.

The agency added that parameters such as the strength of the connection to the A330's refuelling boom line were assessed, as was the KF-21's ability to disconnect from the boom line. “Fuel transfer rates were also examined,” DAPA added.

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