This is one of the prototype KF-21 Boramae fighters destined to serve in the ROKAF.

Updated 28 April 2024

Seoul ADEX 2023

South Korea’s premier defence exhibition is held biennially at the military’s Seoul Airport. The 2023 edition of Seoul ADEX was held from 17-22 October last year, and it did not fail to impress with the depth and breadth of military technology on show from large conglomerates such as Hanwha, LIG Nex1, Kia Motors, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Hyundai Rotem.

The year 2022 was a standout one for South Korean military exports, as domestic companies achieved sales worth USD17.3 billion, compared to USD7.25 billion just a year earlier. It is no accident that the nation is achieving such high levels of sales, as South Korea has forged a reputation for being able to deliver reliable and well-specified equipment within very rapid timeframes. In fact, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute listed South Korea as the world’s ninth largest arms exporter from 2018-22. It was one of only two Asian nations to appear among the top 25 exporters (the other being China in fourth place). Ambitions are unbridled too, with President Yoon Suk Yeol proposing a goal of ultimately being among the world’s top four weapons suppliers, behind the USA, Russia and France respectively.

Returning to Seoul ADEX, the biggest talking point was the appearance of a twin-seat prototype of the KF-21 Boramae fighter from KAI. This aircraft was on static display, as well as performing flight demonstrations. KAI describes the KF-21 as a 4.5-generation fighter, and Indonesia signed up to partner with South Korea on its development. However, Jakarta has not been stumping up the cash that it promised, plus a member of the Indonesian engineering team was even accused of stealing data related to the project. It is therefore unclear why South Korea still allows Indonesian involvement.