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South Korea’s KF-21 fighter fires guided IRIS-T missile

20th May 2024 - 09:46 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


KF-21 fired a guided IRIS-T AIM-2000 AAM a year after firing an unguided missile. (Image: Diehl Defence)

Manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the KF-21 Boramae is a fighter aircraft that resembles the design of the F-35A. South Korea has investing nearly US$8 billion in the fighter development programme which is set to be completed by 2028.

A KAI KF-21 fighter aircraft has fired a guided Diehl BGT Defence’s IRIS-T (IR Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled) short-range air-to-air missile (AIM-2000) for the first time where the missile was designated by the onboard AESA radar and successfully engaged a target UAS.

Just a few months after the first flight of the aircraft in early 2023, a safe separation test was completed by firing an unguided missile in flight in May 2023.

The firing was an important milestone for the IRIS-T programme track record. In February this year, KAI and Diehl Defence agreed to start the integration of IRIS-T into KAI’s FA-50, a further development T/TA-50 trainer/light attack aircraft.

IRIS-T has already been integrated into major combat aircraft platforms such as Panavia Tornado, Eurofighter Typhoon, JAS-39 Gripen, F-16, EF-18 and F-5. The system has been in service or on order with several NATO countries, as well as Brazil, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

Shephard Defence Insight noted the KF-21 would replace F-4E Phantom II and F-5E/F fighters in the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). By 2028, the ROKAF will expect to have 40 KF-21s in service (Phase I) and 120 by 2032 (Phase II). Of this total, 40 will be Block I aircraft configured for air-to-air combat, while 80 Block IIs will later add an air-to-ground capability from 2028 onwards.

The Shephard News Team


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