ROKAF F-15K Slam Eagle armed with KEPD 350

Taurus Seeks South Korean Partner to Develop New Advanced Bunker Buster Missile

German-Swedish defense company Taurus Systems GmbH hopes to develop a smaller, longer-range air-based cruise missile with South Korea for the country’s envisioned KF-X fighters and other aircraft. The current version of the air-to-ground precision-guided missile is Taurus KEPD 350K with a flight range of 500 kilometers. South Korea bought around 260 units, most of which are fitted on F-15K fighter jets. Taurus are developing Taurus K-2, which is smaller but has the same or even more performance of the current missile. The target range of the new missile would be longer than 600 km, and suitable for lighter jets, including KF-X and FA-50 light combat aircraft. The company sent proposals a month ago to Korean firms and is awaiting results.

Taurus KEPD 350 is a Swedish-German air-launched cruise missile, manufactured by Taurus Systems and used by Germany, Spain, and South Korea. Taurus Systems GmbH is a partnership between MBDA Deutschland GmbH (formerly LFK) and Saab Bofors Dynamics. The missile incorporates stealth technology and has an official range in excess of 500 km (300 mi). Taurus is powered by a turbofan engine at Mach 1 and can be carried by Tornado, Eurofighter Typhoon, Gripen, F/A-18, and F-15K jets. The double 500-kilogram (1,100 lb) warhead, called Mephisto (Multi-Effect Penetrator HIghly Sophisticated and Target Optimised), features a precharge and initial penetrating charge to clear soil or enter a hardened underground bunker, then a variable delay fuze to control detonation of the main warhead.

South Korea planned to order 200 missiles to integrate with their F-15K Slam Eagles after being refused Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158 JASSM by Washington. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) signed the deal in November 2013. Taurus Systems open an office in Seoul to handle various acquisition tasks and support technology-transfer and joint development of the next cruise missile. In October 2016, South Korea announced it would acquire a further 90 Taurus missiles, in addition to the 170 previously ordered, in response to North Korean nuclear and missile provocations. On 12 December 2016, the first 40 Taurus KEPD 350K missiles were delivered to the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF, which began deployment for combat use on 22 December 2016.

South Korea is one of the main operators of the Taurus KEPD cruise missile, which it has fitted to its F-15K Slam Eagle fighters, and manufacturer Taurus Systems is looking for a South Korean partner to develop new variants. (Photo: Taurus Systems GmbH)