The KF-21 Boramae fighter jet prototype with the tandem seat variant was reported to have successfully made its first flight. The test flight took place on February 20, 2023. The prototype version of the combat training version took off from the South Korean Air Force’s 3rd Flying Training Wing based at Sacheon Airport
The first flight of the KF-21 tandem seat variant was manned by a pilot from the 52 Test Evaluation Group for 34 minutes. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the agency that oversees the fighter jet project, said that the first flight of the KF-21 tandem seat was carried out to evaluate the effect of different shapes from the single seat type on the aircraft, the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Phased Array) radar system and test avionics.
This is the fourth prototype of the KF-21 Boramae that has been flown by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), but it is the first prototype for the tandem seat variant.
DAPA reports that the addition of the rear cockpit required slight modifications to the internal fuel tank space, but the design of the aircraft is the same as the single seat variant.
However, during flight tests, the purpose of the flight of this fourth KF-21 prototype was to test the differences in flight envelope and performance compared to the single-seat model. The next step is the evaluation of the AESA radar and avionics, because the KF-21 Boramae tandem seat variant will not only be used for pilot training, but will also have full combat capability.
By turning the back room into a room for the system operator (weapon systems officer/WSO), then later the KF-21 tandem seat variant can also be used for man-machine partnership missions with unmanned combat aircraft or drones.
Apart from being a combat training aircraft, the tandem seat model also allows for the development of the KF-21 in supporting electronic warfare missions and destroying enemy air defenses – Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD/DEAD). This capability is critical to addressing increasingly sophisticated and densely packed anti-aircraft defenses on the battlefield