According to Korean analysts, the indigenous fighter KF-21 Boramae is a counterbalance to China’s J-10 and FC-31 fighter models in the Asian, African, and Middle Eastern markets, with “competitive selling costs,” and can be an alternative for countries interested in owning the J-20 fighter.

“In developing countries, particularly in Africa, the KF-21 may compete successfully with China’s J-10 and FC-31 fighters,” said Lee Il-Woo, an expert at the Network. Korean defense said. 

Mr. Lee estimates that each KF-21 will cost between $80 million and USD 100 million, deemed “competitive” pricing.

The capacity of the KF-21 to carry long-range Meteor air-to-air missiles made by European partners and utilizing Korean domestic radar is a unique feature.

KF 21

This missile variant has a maximum range of 200km; if fired within a range of 60km, hostile aircraft will find it difficult to avoid because the missile travels at a maximum speed of 5,000 km/h.

“With the Meteor air-to-air missile, the KF-21 is capable of matching China’s J-20 fighter model,” said Yang Uk, a defense analyst at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

The KF-21 is not a stealth fighter because the armaments are mounted on the wing pylons, and there is no weapon storage in the fuselage.

“With the KF-21, the ROK Air Force will become a formidable force in the region, counterbalancing North Korea and China,” Yang said.

According to expert Lee, Poland has expressed interest in the KF-21 model and may participate in the mass production project from 2029.

This may cause concern in Indonesia. The Southeast Asian country is currently a partner holding a 20% stake in the KF-21 fighter jet project.

South Korea obtained the majority of the technology on the KF-21 from Lockheed Martin based on the F-35A prototype. However, the US government refuses to sell four critical technologies: active electronically scanned radar (AESA), infrared search and track system (IRST), electro-optical tracking system (EO TGP), and electronic tracking system. The radio frequency (RF).

After the US refusal in 2015, South Korea developed these technologies on its own, including the AESA radar with the ability to detect and track multiple targets simultaneously.