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South Korea unveils KF-21, homegrown fighter jet


Senile Old Coot
☭ Communism ☭
I am so happy that Canada's conservatives have all been fucking up at the provincial level, and that of the federal level they are tanking after doing nothing but whining how Trudeau is the worst for [insert obvious lie here].

Canada's military procurement is so fucked up, with every major contract getting cancelled every time the federal government changes. Hopefully the Liberals stay in place long enough to get us our long overdue replacement fighters. Too bad that Korea is too late to get in on the bidding wars, or that Rafale backed out.

Since our choices are Boing, Lockheed, and SAAB, I am totally team SAAB for this one. Just get them here before the Cons take government again, or they will dump a few more billions down the drain to Buy American.


Well-known member
Saab you mean Grippen?

Isnt Grippen, abit, a little, kind off, at the end of its developement life?


Senile Old Coot
☭ Communism ☭
Saab you mean Grippen?

Isnt Grippen, abit, a little, kind off, at the end of its developement life?
If you think that is bad, then the other options are to buy F/A-18A (which is about 40 years old), or blow another wad of money on the F-35 that doesn't even meet our needs.

Gripen is a breath of fresh air in that kind of moldy dank.

Since the odds of Canada ever actually going up against an opponent that hasn't already been bombed into ruin by the US, who even cares if all the newest gizmos are on board for the entire life cycle?


Well-known member

Dunno, you never know when the Artic Lizardmen decide they have had enough of the Mapple Leaf moose fuckers down south and decide to invade AND THEN YOU WILL BE ALL SORRY! :giggle::alien:


Senile Old Coot
☭ Communism ☭

Dunno, you never know when the Artic Lizardmen decide they have had enough of the Mapple Leaf moose fuckers down south and decide to invade AND THEN YOU WILL BE ALL SORRY! :giggle::alien:
We will just have to raze their White House too. *shrug*

Besides, if all else fails there is a family of Cossacks living in Canada. We are like a cluster of multiuse WMDs.

Terra Novan

Well-known member
New information from SB thread:

KF-21 info released:

Maximum thrust: 44,000lb
Range: 2900km
Maximum speed: 2200kph
Maximum load: 7700kg
Maximum takeoff weight: 25,600kg

Source: "팔방미인" 방위사업청 대표 블로그 : 네이버 블로그

South Korea are developing following weapons to mount on KF-21:
Domestic version of Taurus smart munition
Hypersonic antiship missile
Beyond visual range missile based on KSAAM
Anti Radiation missile to replace AGM-88 HARM
I think a table makes things easier to parse.

As for your speculation, I think I fundamentally agree with it, though I don't think the KF-21 will ever approach the kinematics of the Raptor - TVC allows it to fly way tighter turns than anything else. The weapon bays also IMO point towards some intent towards strike, they are considerably larger than they would need to be for just AMRAAMs.
/F-35Super HornetRafaleTyphoonRaptorKF-21
Thrust (lbs)43 00044 00034 00040 00070 00044 000
MTOW (lbs)70 00066 00054 01351 80983 50056 320
T/W (Reheat/MTOW)0.610.660.620.770.840.78
Speed (km/h)196019151912212524142200
Range (km)28002346~3000 (?)290030002900
This is obviously not detailed information, but it seems to me that even a very quick and dirty, back of the envelope analysis yields some interesting and informative inferences. I did a quick cross-comparison of the KF-21's numbers (above) with those for a range of modern Western fighters, including the F-35, the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the F-22.

Since I'm not privy to sekret sources, I will rely mostly on Wikipedia, sadly, although in this case it should generally be OK, I think, since I'm only comparing very simple data.

The data points I've compared are: Max Thrust (with Afterburner); Max Take-off Weight (since this number is readily available for all of these fighters for the purposes of this very casual comparison; comparing combat loads would be a far more difficult and arcane exercise); Thrust to Weight Ratio (Max Thrust/MTOW); Max Speed; Max Range.

(If anyone feels that any of the Wiki-based numbers I've highlighted below are grossly incorrect, please feel free to provide a source.)

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II - Wikipedia

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet - Wikipedia

Dassault Rafale - Wikipedia

Eurofighter Typhoon - Wikipedia

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor - Wikipedia

Max Thrust: F-35: 43,000 lbf; Super Hornet: 44,000; Rafale: 34,000; Typhoon: 40,000; F-22: 70,000; KF-21: 44,000

MTOW: F-35: 70,000 lbs.; Super Hornet: 66,000; Rafale: 54,013; Typhoon: 51,809; F-22: 83,500; KF-21: 56,320

Thrust to Weight (Max Thrust/MTOW): F-35: 0.61; Super Hornet: 0.66; Rafale: 0.62; Typhoon: 0.77; F-22: 0.84; KF-21: 0.78

Max Speed: F-35:1,960 kph; Super Hornet: 1,915; Rafale: 1,912; Typhoon: 2,125; F-22: 2,414; KF-21: 2,200

Max Range: F-35: 2,800 km; Super Hornet: 2,346; Rafale: ~3,000 (?); Typhoon: 2,900; F-22: 3,000; KF-21: 2,900

Some observations that immediately leaped out on viewing the numbers:

-Based on Thrust to (MTOW) Weight, the six fighters can be put into two groups: 1) F-35/Super Hornet/Rafale, which cluster around 0.6-ish; and 2) the Typhoon/F-22/KF-21, which cluster around 0.8-ish. IMO, this is not a coincidence. The former group comprises fighters that are generally understood to emphasize their strike (or multi) roles. The Typhoon and the F-22, on the other hand, are air superiority fighters first, although they can also perform strike roles (especially if the air forces in question chose to put in the effort to upgrade them). By the numbers, the KF-21 falls squarely in the second category.

-Similarly, there is a similar demarcation in Max Speed. The F-35/Super Hornet/Rafale group clusters around 1,900-1,960 kph, while the Typhoon/F-22/KF-21 group clusters well north of the first, at 2,125-2,414 kph.

-The Max Ranges are all quite similar, except for the Super Hornet, which looks a bit short-legged. This is possibly due to the fact that its weight is relatively high compared to engine power; the KF-21 uses essentially the same engines (2 x F414), while its MTOW is 10,000 lbs. lighter.

-The development menu for the future weapons loadout as listed above is yet another data point that hints very strongly at the the expectation of a Low Observability fighter in many of the required operational roles. Everything that we know about the KF-21's design thus far indicates that the eventual end-goal is an LO fighter. Things like the painstaking stealth shaping, which comes with performance trade-offs, and the precise space needed for an Internal Weapons Bay being built into the airframe, both of which exist from the the get-go, makes no sense otherwise.

-Now comes a bit more speculative inference: let's look toward what the KF-21 might look like nearer the end of its development phases, in later Blocks. Let's assume that the KF-21 transitions to an upgraded EPE version of the GE F414 engine, which is generally expected to provide about a 20% boost to performance.

Balanced against this would be modifications for a wide range of strike capabilities and weapons, as well as stealth modifications such as a fully-developed Internal Weapons Bay, and fully conformal sensors/electronics, and possibly more fuel capacity, all of which would increase the weight of the aircraft. If the MTOW increases by, say, 10%, to around 62,000 lbs., which would approach that of the Super Hornet (66,000 lbs.), the Thrust to Weight would be still 0.85, or equivalent to the current F-22 (0.84).

Even in a more extreme scenario, in which the KF-21 goes full bomb truck, the Thrust to Weight would still be extremely high. If we assume a 20% increase in MTOW, which at almost 68,000 lbs. would bring the KF-21 near the F-35 (at 70,000 lbs.), the Thrust to Weight would hover at around 0.78. This is what the Air-to-Air 56,000 MTOW lbs. Block I version of the KF-21 is at now (according to the numbers provided above). I'm not sure that grossing up the KF-21's takeoff weight to that extreme is a very good or practical idea, since it doesn't seem to be initially structurally designed for it (it has the graceful lines and proportions of the F-22, just smaller), but if it were possible, it would be a real monster. Imagine a Low Observability fighter with the carrying capacity of the F-35 but the power and kinematics of the F-22.

IMO, the signs of the Koreans' long term ambitions are all there to see, and it will be interesting to follow over the next decade or so to see if they pull it all off. On the evidence of their modern economic, industrial and technological history, however, if there's one thing that they have proven again and again, it's that they are very bold and good at reaching for stretch goals.

(Someone once told me an interesting story about the development of their electronics industry, which started from very humble beginnings, focusing on things like assembling PCB boards in the 70s. At the time, industry experts said that South Korea would never be able to develop what were then considered very high-end, high-tech items, such as microwave ovens. Samsung Electronics, which at the time was a relatively modest company that was unknown outside of Korea, decided that they were going to crack this market segment. They put together an R&D team that painfully struggled to develop a working prototype. The team basically lived at the R&D center, laboring round the clock. After a long period of trial and error, they emerged looking like death warmed over, but with a microwave oven that worked. Some years later, the Koreans were among the global leaders in the white goods market.)

Rufus Shinra

Well-known member
Yep, it definitely shapes like a pretty good plane, and what the US wishes its JSF was, something small-ish but with good performance and that doesn't put itself into an evolutionary dead-end like F-35 did. The 7 tonnes loadout will still be a bit of a limiter, though, particularly for strike missions where external fuel tanks tend to be welcome. Though, for South Korean use, this is less of an issue given the geography and their interests.

Obviously, good electronics are to be expected, so no silly thing such as an IRST obsolete from the get-go (looking at you again, F-35). I stand in my previous analysis now that these numbers are getting out: the US should licence-build this plane ASAP to replace the F-35A and ideally fund a navalized version to replace C and only keep B for STOVL platforms. Oh, and Saab can cry all of its tears because they are FUCKED when it comes to their niche market of an affordable fighter jet that comes with ITAR restrictions.
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