2nd Prototype of KAI KF-21 Boramae Sighter Succeeds in Maiden Flight
2nd Prototype of KAI KF-21 Boramae Sighter Succeeds in Maiden Flight

South Korea to Develop Air-launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) by 2028

The South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) will launch a program to develop a long-range, air-launched cruise missile (ALCM). The ALCM is anticipated to be capable of hitting a target up to 500 kilometers away with pinpoint accuracy, and will become a core asset of the KF-21. DAPA will spend 190 billion won ($145 million) to produce the nation’s first domestically developed ALCM by 2028, and that it will be mounted on the KF-21 fighter jet, currently under development by South Korea. DAPA hopes that the missile will contribute to beefing up South Korea’s three-axis defense system against North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats.

DAPA declined to specify the range of the ALCM, but said it plans to come up with a missile with a range equivalent to that of the Taurus missile. 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 0.95 and can be carried by Tornado, Eurofighter Typhoon, Gripen, F/A-18, and F-15K jets.

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South Korean KAI KF-21 Boramae Fighter Jet Undergoing Taxiing Trials
South Korean KAI KF-21 Boramae Fighter Jet Undergoing Taxiing Trials.

The ALCM is a completely new endeavor for South Korea, due to a lack of technologies involving the safe mounting of missiles on an aircraft and separating them for use. But research from 2019 to 2021 has confirmed the feasibility of the development project, according to DAPA. Under the supervision of the Agency for Defense Development, the nation’s defense companies, including Korea Aerospace Industries, LIG Nex1 and Hanwha Aerospace, will participate in the production of a prototype missile. The ALCM is expected to contribute not only to the export, but also to increase the export competitiveness of the KF-21 fighter.

The KAI KF-21 Boramae is a South Korean fighter aircraft development program, with Indonesian involvement, with the goal of producing an advanced multirole fighter for the South Korean and Indonesian air forces. The airframe is stealthier than any fourth-generation fighter, but does not carry weapons in internal bays like fifth-generation fighters, though internal bays may be introduced later in development. The initial goal for the program was to develop a single-seat twin-engine multirole fighter with stealth capabilities exceeding both the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon but less than those of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

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