SEOUL: A state-run defense research agency has recommended scaling back the initial production volume of South Korea's KF-21 homegrown fighter jets.
According to Yonhap News Agency, The move raises concerns over the price competitiveness of the project, which aims to replace the country's aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 jets.
The Korea Institute for Defense Analyses revealed the findings of a feasibility study in a closed-door meeting on Monday. The study advises halving the initial production volume to 20 units, a departure from the original plan to deploy 120 units by 2032. This recommendation comes amid uncertainties surrounding the 8.8 trillion-won (US$6.59 billion) project, which was launched in 2015.
The feasibility study conducted by the institute is the final obligatory step for securing budget resources for the project's first-phase production, set to commence next year. In response to the study's findings, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) stated it will consult with relevant agencies to ensure timely deployment of the aircraft, although it did not elaborate on the ongoing review process.
During a press briefing, DAPA official You Hyoung-keun confirmed that the KF-21 project is progressing as scheduled. "We will continue to make efforts to ensure that the KF-21 is deployed in a timely manner and maintains price and performance competitiveness," he said.
Flight tests for six prototypes of the 4.5th-generation fighter, developed by Korea Aerospace Industries, began earlier this year. The goal is to deliver the first batch to the Air Force in the latter half of 2026.