The skies over South Korea buzzed with excitement recently as the nation’s indigenous fighter jet program, the KF-21 Boramae, meaning “young hawk” in Korean, achieved a significant milestone.

The Boramae successfully launched and guided an IRIS-T (infrared imaging system tail/thrust vector-controlled) short-range air-to-air missile, marking a major leap forward in its development and solidifying South Korea’s position as a rising aerospace power.

This accomplishment wasn’t achieved overnight.

The Boramae program, a testament to the perseverance and dedication of South Korea and Indonesia, embarked on its journey in 2011 with the ambitious goal of developing a next-generation multirole fighter.

South Korea, holding the majority stake in the program, aims to replace its aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 fighters with the Boramae while also offering a competitive export option to other nations seeking to modernize their air forces.

Overcoming Hurdles: The Road to Development

The road to this recent success wasn’t without its challenges.

Initial delays pushed back production from the originally planned 2026 start date.

However, with production now set to commence in 2024, albeit with a revised target of 20 aircraft initially, the program is demonstrating renewed momentum.