Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has awarded MBDA a contract, of undisclosed value, to integrate the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) on the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) future Korean Fighter eXperimental (KF-X) fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
Awarded during the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) 2019 in mid-October, but announced by MBDA on 22 November, the contract provides for "the transfer of know-how and the manufacture of all the necessary test equipment to complete the integration, including integration support and instrumented missiles for the trials campaign," an MBDA spokesperson told Jane's . The spokesperson confirmed that the integration contract now paves the way for a future Meteor procurement contract for the KF-X from the RoKAF.
In the interim, the Meteor integration and platform trials campaign timeline on the KF-X is linked to the platform programme timeline. Developed by KAI, KF-X is part of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Defence Acquisition Programme Administration's (DAPA's) F-X phased fighter acquisition programme for the RoKAF, and is intended to replace the RoKAF's F-4E Phantom and F-5E Tiger II aircraft. The KF-X programme includes the production of six prototype platforms - with an initial platform prototype completed by the first half of 2021, and test flights in 2022; completion of platform trials and development is expected by mid-2026, with an initial production batch of 150-200 scheduled for the 2026-32 timeframe. DAPA will launch the KF-X Block 2 programme in 2021, which includes the development of internal weapon bays for the platform. Under F-X Phase 3 South Korea has also elected to acquire 40 Lockheed Martin F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant stealth fighters.
Meteor is a next-generation BVRAAM effector developed under a co-operative agreement between France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Integration of the weapon has already been completed on the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen JAS 39E/F and Dassault Rafale F3R-standard multirole combat aircraft; integration on the F-35 (short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) B variant for the UK) and now the KF-X is currently underway.
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