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Sixth KF-21 prototype conducts first test flight

The KF-21 prototype No 6 will not only assist with the training of additional pilots but also augment the ongoing testing of weapons and avionics, as well as assist with the validation of dual-cockpit design. (DAPA)

The sixth and final prototype of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-21 has conducted its first flight test.

On 28 June South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said that the prototype successfully took off from the 3rd Flying Training Wing (at Sacheon). According to DAPA, it then conducted a 33-minute test flight before returning to Sacheon at 1622 h local time.

This is the second prototype with a dual-cockpit configuration. An earlier dual-cockpit prototype (KF-21 No 4) flew for the first time on 20 February.

According to DAPA, the sixth prototype will continue ongoing assessments of the two-seat design and its effect on flight characteristics. Janes has previously reported that the two-seat versions of the KF-21 differ from the single-seat versions in having changes to the internal components due to the addition of the rear cockpit.

β€œLike with the existing prototypes, [the sixth prototype] will test pilot stability, expansion of the flight range, and avionics, including active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar,” DAPA said.

β€œIt will conduct performance verification of electronic equipment and conduct armament tests,” the agency added.

An image of prototype No 6's flight test released by DAPA appears to show that the aircraft was armed with at least two MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs) in its semi-recessed ventral weapons area.

Janes assesses that prototype No 6 will also integrate an infrared search and track (IRST) system, plus navigation and attack systems, to further test the flight capabilities of the aircraft.

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