KAI Showcases KF-21N Fighter Jet Model, 'Boramae' Variant Operating From Carrier

KAI Showcases KF-21N Fighter Jet Model, 'Boramae' Variant Operating From Carrier
The KF-21N is slated to adopt the US-made F414-GE-400K twin engine, which was also used
in the air force version of the KF-21 prototype

With the release of future aircraft carrier designs, it is implied that the South Korean Navy has an obsession with becoming a Blue Water Navy. And when talking about the presence of an aircraft carrier, it will automatically include what type of fighter aircraft it will carry. 

To support naval aviation strength, the South Korean Navy plans to order 20 units of F-35B fighter jets, which have SVTOL (Short Vertical Take-off and Landing) capabilities.

The procurement of fighter jets certainly cannot be separated from the design of the aircraft carrier itself. As South Korea's Ministry of Defense on August 10, 2020, has announced the LPX-II program, which is a new type of aircraft carrier designed to carry 20 F-35Bs. 

The LPX-II program, previously called LPH-II, for funding will be included in the defense spending plan for the period from 2021 to 2025.

Then in February 2021, South Korea's Ministry of Defense inaugurated the CVX project to develop a light aircraft carrier by injection of about 2.33 trillion won (US$1.7 billion) from 2022 to 2033 for basic design and construction only. 

The Ministry of Defense came up with the idea to build a 30,000-ton light aircraft carrier manned by a crew of more than 400, leading to debate as to whether South Korea really needed an expensive ship for far-sea operations.

However, the South Korean Navy said that the aircraft carrier concept design is still very likely to be revised further, considering that for now it is still in the basic design stage. The CVX project could also be scrapped if the defense ministry fails to secure national consensus and parliamentary approval.

Now, when the aircraft carrier design can still be 'swayed', it seems to be an opportunity for Korea Aerospace Industrie (KAI) to offer the concept of a national pride fighter jet, the KF-21 Boramae in a naval variant, which is labeled KF-21N.

Quoted from Aju Business Daily – ajudaily.com (21/9/2022), KAI displayed the KF-21N model at a defense exhibition in West Seoul as a potential carrier-born aircraft. Along with the release of the KF-21N design, KAI proposed a catapult-assisted take-off barrier arrest recovery (CATOBAR) system – using a catapult and a short take-off, barrier-arrested recovery (STOBAR) system – using a ski-jump, which was deemed suitable for medium sized carrier.

As a fighter jet that will nest on an aircraft carrier, the KF-21N comes with a number of characteristics in the style of a narrow carrier-style deck and hangar. Like the main wingtip model that can be folded to save space when parking. 

Then the front landing gear (nose landing gear) is designed with a two-wheel model (double wheels). In contrast, the air force variant of the KF-21 Boramae uses a single wheel, as does the F-16 Fighting Falcon.


The KF-21N is slated to adopt the US-made F414-GE-400K twin engine, which was also used in the air force version of the KF-21 prototype. However, if the KF-21 can accelerate to a maximum of Mach 2, then the KF-21N has a maximum speed of Mach 1.6. The maximum take-off weight of the KF-21N is 25.6 tons and a payload capacity of 7.6 tons.

Speaking of dimensions, the KF-21N has a total length of 17.1 meters, a wingspan of 12.3 meters and a height of 5.2 meters. The KF-21N has the same maximum thrust and maximum takeoff weight as the KF-21. 

For the record, the KF-21 (AU version) has a maximum payload of 7.7 tons, a total length of 16.9 meters, a height of 4.7 meters and a wingspan of 11.2 meters.

Apart from the status of the KF-21N which is still only an initial concept, the formidable challenge for KAI is how to convince top South Korean Air Force officials who prefer the F-35B Lightning II. The F-35B armed with two precision-guided bombs and two air-to-air missiles can catch ballistic missiles 1,300 kilometers away.

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