LF24-728x90-WEB-240202-01With the recent approval of the production of 20 KF-21 Boramae fighter aircraft, South Korea intends to provide a major boost to its future defense capabilities. The KF-21s will not only help in deterring threats originating from North Korea but owing to their stealthy design, they will also open up export opportunities for Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), as more air force organizations worldwide seek to possess this technology in recent years, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest “Fleet Size Dashboard”, reveals that 84% of fixed-wing aircraft active in South Korean Air Force inventory are relatively new, with an average age of less than 30 years. With the induction of new KF-21 aircraft, it is anticipated that the average age of the South Korean fixed-wing aircraft fleet will diminish further as older equipment is gradually phased out.

Furthermore, the dashboard also indicates that about 20% of South Korea’s fixed-wing fleet is domestically produced, a proportion set to improve as older imported aircraft are replaced by the KF-21. Along with the KF-21, other notable ongoing and planned fixed-wing aircraft acquisition programs by the country include the TA-50 trainer and C-390 transport aircaft.

Harpreet Sidhu, Aerospace and Defense Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The initiation of production of the KF-21 will mark a significant stride in South Korea’s indigenous defense manufacturing, positioning it as one of the few countries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region to design and deploy stealth fighters.”

As South Korea prepares to phase out its aging F-4 and F-5 fleet, the advanced capabilities of the KF-21 will play a pivotal role in bolstering its operational readiness. Furthermore, the government’s push for indigenous defense manufacturing not only enhances domestic defense supply-chain infrastructure but also fosters economic growth by generating employment opportunities.

Sidhu concludes: “Facing persistent threats from its northern neighbour, South Korea’s overarching goal is to protect its sovereign territory while building up its own defense manufacturing capabilities. By reducing reliance on foreign suppliers, the country aims to ensure effective maintenance and higher availability of KF-21 throughout its operational life. This plan will not only promote self-reliance in the defense sector but will also open opportunities for exports to friendly nations.”

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