South Korean KF-21 Completed First Successful Aerial Refueling

South Korea’s KAI KF-21 Boramae fighter aircraft conducted the first mid-flight refueling today, March 19th, marking a major step in the testing and development of the 4th-generation jet.

The KF-21 took off from an airbase in Sacheon, around 183 miles (296km) southeast of Seoul, and refueled from a Republic of Korea (ROK) Air Force KC-330 off the southern coastline, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

DAPA elaborated that refueling extends the operational time by around 50% and claimed the KF-21 used in today’s demonstration was the fifth prototype out of six produced. Additional testing of mid-flight refueling at different altitudes and speeds will continue.

“Aerial refueling is an essential capability for modern fighter jets,” DAPA issued in a press release, also stating: “It can expand the KF-21’s operational range and time to maximize the Air Force’s combat capabilities, such as in long-range missions.”

The KF-21 program began in 2015 between South Korea and Indonesia to replace the aging F-4E Phantom II and F-5E/Fs currently in service by the ROK Air Force.