A KF-21 separates an air-to-air mid-range Meteor test missile during an armament test flight in this March 28, 2023 ile photo provided by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration. Yonhap

Korea’s homegrown fighter jet KF-21 under development is set to conduct its first live-fire test with long-range air-to-air Meteor missiles this week, sources said Tuesday.A prototype of the KF-21 is scheduled to conduct the test over the waters off the country’s southern coast Wednesday, according to sources familiar with the issue.In March 2023, two prototype aircraft succeeded in separating the Meteor test missiles in midair.If the test is successfully conducted, it is expected to extend the KF-21’s long-range and demonstrate interception capabilities.

A successful test would make the KF-21 join the ranks of select fighter jets, including the Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafael and Gripen in achieving this feat.The Meteor missile is capable of flying at over Mach 4, equivalent to four times the speed of sound, and can intercept targets over 200 kilometers away. It measures 3.6 meters in length, 17.8 centimeters in diameter and weighs 185 kilograms.Each KF-21 can carry up to four Meteor missiles, with deployment scheduled to begin next month.Korea Aerospace Industries plans to build 20 KF-21s this year and produce 20 more next year.If the project proceeds as planned, the Air Force is expected to receive its first KF-21 in the second half of 2026 to replace its aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 메이저 jets.