South Korea’s next-generation fighter aircraft will reportedly be equipped with an indigenous, air-launched, long-range cruise missile, modelled after the Taurus KEPD 350, manufactured by the German-Swedish firm Taurus Systems, according to Defense News.
The Agency for Defense Development, or ADD, is expected to finalize a local partner company by September for exploratory development of the missile for the country’s next-generation Korea Fighter-Experimental (KF-X) program.
“As part of offset deals to buy Taurus missiles for the past years, South Korea received some part of the Taurus KEPD 350 technologies,” an ADD official was quoted as saying. “Based on the transferred Taurus technology, we’ll develop our own air-to-ground, long-range missile to be integrated into the KF-X fighter jet, which is expected to be operational by 2026”.
Hanwha Corporation and LIG Nex1 are competing for the air-to-air missile project worth some $730 million. Both companies have unveiled the concept designs of their 3,000-pound Taurus-class missile with a range of 400 kilometers.
The arms procurement agency originally preferred fitting the KF-X aircraft with U.S. weapons systems, such as Raytheon-built AIM-120 and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, but the U.S. government has yet to approve the export license of the missiles.
At least 120 KF-X jets are to be produced after 2026 to replace the aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s. At least 50 units are to be manufactured in Indonesia, the sole KF-X partner obliged to burden 20 percent of the development costs for the 4.5-generation KF-X jet.