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South Korea’s KF-21 To Get Homegrown ALCM

Yulian Ardiansyah - : Dec 15, 2022 - : 5:54 pm

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said on Monday (Dec. 12) that the agency is investing USD145 million to develop an Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) for the country’s upcoming KF-21 Boramae (Fighting Hawk) jet fighter. DAPA has also revealed that the new weapon is expected to enter service in 2028.

Named Cheonryong (Sky Dragon), the missile is actually has been developed since 2016. While it has similar characteristics to the Swedish-German Taurus KEPD 350, which is also in service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), the new ALCM is the first confirmed locally developed weapon for the KF-21.

While not much more has been revealed regarding the Cheonryong ALCM, it also has been indicated that the missile is likely to weigh around 1,500 kg and will have a range of around 500 km. It will also have a dual-stage warhead similar to the KEPD 350. This warhead will enable it to penetrate deep into the enemy’s fortification before exploding which is also known as “bunker busting”.

This ability is important for the ROKAF since the weapon will be launched to attack North Korea’s hardened bunkers and military targets in case of an open armed conflict occur between the two nations in the peninsula.

Using the Taurus KEPD 350 ALCM as the sample for Cheonryong’s specification and ability, the missile has a length of about 5 meters, and a diameter of around 1 meter with wings folded. It is powered by a turbofan engine giving it a cruise speed of around Mach 0.9. It will also fly low about 30-70 meters above the ground while following the terrain’s contour to minimize its exposure to enemy radars.

Guided by a multitude of guidance systems such as Image-based navigation, Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and some others, the Cheonryong ALCM is expected to have a similar or better accuracy compared to its peers which are claimed to be accurate within 2 meters.

There is a possibility that once it enters mass production, the new missile will also be offered for export, either as a package with the KF-21 or stand-alone.

[Photo: Taurus System GmbH]


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