Gangneung emerges as top candidate to station S. Korea’s homegrown KF-21 fighter jet

A KF-21 prototype is seen at the headquarters of Korea Aerospace Industries in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, in this May 10, 2023 photo. Joint Press Corps

The Republic of Korea Air Force is reviewing the feasibility of deploying the country’s homegrown supersonic fighter jet, the KF-21, at an air base in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, to better respond to North Korean aerial threats, according to military officials Wednesday.The KF-21, also known by its Korean name Boramae, is set to be deployed beginning in 2026.The Gangneung air base is currently utilized as the home of the Air Force’s F-5 fighters.Officials said Gangneung is strategically significant due to its proximity to North Korea and its role in ensuring swift response capabilities.The F-5, despite being in service for over 40 years, boasts a key advantage over other modern aircraft for its quick turnaround time for flight preparation, rapid takeoff and aerial response.

The KF-21, the 4.5-generation supersonic fighter jet, has been undergoing rigorous testing to verify its performance and combat readiness. The strategic deployment of the fighter, armed with advanced air-to-air weaponry such as the Meteor and AIM-2000 missiles, is viewed as a pivotal measure in strengthening South Korea’s defense capabilities amid changing regional dynamics.The Defense Acquisition Program Administration finalized plans to introduce 20 units of the KF-21 this year and another 20 by next year in a meeting in March.As one combat squadron comprises 20 aircraft in general, it is anticipated that two squadrons of the KF-21 will be stationed gradually at Gangneung.Existing F-5 forces stationed there are expected to be relocated to an air base in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, ensuring continuity of operations until retirement.The KF-21 is a multirole fighter developed by the Korea Aerospace Industries in collaboration with the South Korean government. It is designed to replace the country’s aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 fighter 온라인카지노 jets.

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