Entering an elite club of countries that have built their own supersonic fighter jets, South Korea on Tuesday debuted the KF-21 Boramae fighter jet, even as tensions grow between them and North Korea due to the South’s alliance with the United States and Japan.

Built by Korea Aerospace Industries, the KF-21 Boramae fighter jet took flight on Tuesday with pilot Maj. Ahn Jun-hyun, doing a round trip in the city of Sacheon that lasted 33 minutes to demonstrate its abilities, according to CNN.

The jet is one of the six supersonic fighter jet prototypes built by the Korea Aerospace Industries that will be used to test the strengths and weaknesses of the aircraft before mass production begins in 2026. The planes will reportedly undergo over 2,000 test flights between now and 2026.

“The KF-21 is the first fighter aircraft made with domestic technology, and it indicates that South Korea is now able to build fighter aircraft on its own. It will also be a stepping stone to develop better fighter aircraft and operate locally developed arms,” South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration said.

The homegrown nature of the technology of the fighter jet makes South Korea one of the few countries around the world to have developed and flown a supersonic fighter jet, in an elite club with the United States, Russia, China, Japan, France, Sweden and a European consortium of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain.

“The program has significantly enhanced South Korean aerospace capabilities particularly in design, manufacture, airframe components and avionic systems,” Peter Layton at the Griffith Asia Institute in Australia said.

The new fighter jets come as North Korea continues to criticize South Korea’s ongoing defense alliance with the United States and Japan, using their alliance together as a reason for continuing its development of a nuclear program in the country, NPR reported.

“The prevailing situation more urgently calls for building up the country's defense to actively cope with the rapid aggravation of the security environment of the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the world,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The chief executives of the U.S., Japan and South Korea put their heads together for confrontation with (North Korea) and discussed the dangerous joint military countermeasures against it including the launch of tripartite joint military exercises.”

South Korea recently unveiled its own homegrown supersonic fighter jets made from local technology, as they become one of the few countries in the world to manufacture its own fighter jet planes. This is a representational image. UX Gun/Unsplash.

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