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KF-21 successfully launched Meteor and IRIS-T missiles

The prototype of the South Korean multirole aircraft KF-21 Boramae conducted its first test firing of MBDA Meteor and Diehl IRIS-T air-to-air missiles, which were successful.

On Wednesday, March 8, 2024, the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) under the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Korea announced that the prototype of the KAI KF-21 Boramae multirole aircraft conducted its first tests of firing MBDA Meteor and Diehl IRIS-T air-to-air missiles, which were successful.

The Meteor missile separation test from the KF-21 prototype no. 002 (Block 1) was conducted on March 28 this year. / Photos: DAPA

The aircraft took off from the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) factory airport in Sacheon, Gyeongsang province at 11:45 local time, and after successfully launching the long-range Meteor missile at 12:20, it returned to the airport at 12:47.

It was reported that during the test, the radar with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) developed by Hanwha Systems, installed on the aircraft, detected and tracked an unmanned aerial target from a distance of 87 km. The launched missile passed the target at a distance of 1 meter, as the proximity fuse was intentionally not activated. It was also reported that the AIM-2000 IRIS-T missile test was conducted in a similar manner in the afternoon.

DAPA stated that the missile launched from the aircraft was safely separated and the test was successfully conducted. It was confirmed that the integration between the KF-21 and the air-to-air missiles is stable, proving that successful combat missions are feasible.

During the KF-X (Korean Fighter Experimental) development program, Korea sought to integrate American missile systems AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder, but the U.S. government refused to allow their integration with the developing next-generation aircraft.

Therefore, on February 22, 2019, the MBDA consortium announced that it had received an order from KAI for the integration of Meteor long-range guided air-to-air missiles with the KF-X multirole aircraft (later named KF-21 Boramae).

Subsequently, on February 18, 2024, KAI signed a memorandum of understanding with the German company Diehl Defence regarding the potential integration of AIM-2000 IRIS-T short-range homing air-to-air missiles with the FA-50 Fighting Eagle and KF-21 Boramae combat aircraft.

Currently, South Korea has obtained permission to integrate the AIM-120 and AIM-9X missiles, but is initially testing the Meteor and IRIS-T missiles on the KF-21 and plans to offer them with this aircraft for export.

MBDA Meteor missiles can be used in all weather conditions against combat aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and cruise missiles. This actively radar-guided missile is equipped with a data link, and can operate in a networked environment, enhancing the precision of aviation operations. The missile is 3.7 meters in length, 178 mm in diameter, and weighs 190 kg. It is powered by a variable flow solid-fuel air-augmented rocket engine. It is equipped with both impact and proximity fuses and a fragmentation warhead. As a BVRAAM (Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile), it can destroy targets up to approximately 150 km away.

The AIM-2000 IRIS-T is an air-to-air variant of the IRIS-T/TCV (Infra-Red Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled) missile. It is capable of engaging aerial targets both before (Lock-On Before Launch, LOBL) and after (Lock-On After Launch, LOAL) missile launch, and is equipped with both proximity and impact fuses. It was developed by a consortium led by Diehl Defence in collaboration with Sweden, Spain, Italy, Greece, Norway, and Austria.


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