The Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-21 Boramae fighter is undergoing high angle-of-attack (AoA) tests.

The tests commenced in January using the second of six KF-21 prototypes, according to a video posted by South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

KF-21 prototype 2 Aoa Tests

Source: Defense Acquisition Program Administration

The second KF-21 prototype was fitted with a spin recovery chute for the high angle-of-attack tests

The tests commenced in January over the ocean near KAI’s Sacheon production facility. To guard against a possible loss of control, the aircraft was fitted with a spin recovery chute between its twin tails.

The DAPA video shows the aircraft rotating to an AoA of around 70° before the pilot pushes the nose down, completing the manoeuvre.

During the high AoA manoeuvre, performed at 38,000ft, the jet’s calibrated airspeed fell to just 20kt (37km/h). Additional AoA tests will be conducted. 

Following the flight of the first KF-21 prototype in July 2022, five additional prototypes have joined the testing campaign, bringing the testing fleet to four single-seaters and two two-seaters.

Last year saw several testing milestones completed, including breaking the sound barrier as well as work around sensor and weapons integration. The aircraft’s flight envelope has also been explored during hundreds of tests.

Source: Defense Acquisition Program Administration

Overall, the test campaign will run to 2,000 flights, with development expected to be completed by 2026.

The KF-21 is powered by two GE Aerospace F414 engines, and will replace McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms and Northrop F-5s still in service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). The KF-21 is pitched as an “affordable mid-class fighter”, with 10 hardpoints for weapons.

Indonesia is a junior partner in the programme, but reports suggest that it is consistently late with payments.

Mass production of the KF-21 is set to commence this year, with deliveries to the ROKAF to begin in the second half of 2026.