Taurus Systems, a joint venture between MBDA and Saab, could collaborate with a South Korean company to develop a new air-based cruise missile with range of over 600km to arm the country’s indigenous KF-X and FA-50 combat jets.
"We are developing Taurus K-2, which is smaller but has the same or even more performance of the current missile. We intend to develop and produce this missile in Korea with a Korean partner. Currently, we are looking around to find a partner," Christoffer Drevstad, president of Taurus Systems Korea Co., said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.
Taurus has already sent proposals a month ago to Korean firms and is currently awaiting results.
The current version of the air-to-ground precision-guided missile is Taurus KEPD 350K with a flight range of 500km. South Korea bought around 260 units, most of which are fitted on F-15K fighter jets. The weapon, known as a bunker-buster missile, can be used to destroy radar stations and other key facilities in North Korea, according to experts.
Under the $7.4 billion KF-X project, South Korea has been working to develop a home-grown cutting-edge fighter aircraft to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II jets. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is undertaking final assembly of the prototype jet, which could be rolled out by mid-2021. South Korea aims to complete development by around 2026.
But the country decided in 2018 to develop its own stand-off air-launched cruise missile, and is conducting exploratory research.
Drevstad said that South Korea will eventually be able to successfully develop its own bunker buster missile, but it could take more than 15 years as it has not developed this kind of missile before.
"We are estimating around three years (before completing the development) with a Korean partner. We are waiting for requirements (from the Korean government)," he said.