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KAI KF-21 conducts test launch of IRIS-T missile

The test launch of an InfraRed Imaging System-Tail control missile from a KF-21 fighter aircraft on 4 April suggests that South Korea is moving to acquire quantities of this advanced short-range missile. (Diehl Defence GmbH & Co KG)

Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) has successfully test-fired an AIM-2000 InfraRed Imaging System-Tail control (IRIS-T) missile from its KF-21 fighter aircraft for the first time.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced this maiden launch of the IRIS-T missile from the KF-21 in a video on 7 April. The launch represents the expansion of the KF-21's armaments testing programme. The weapons-launching phase of the KF-21 test programme began on 28 March.

According to DAPA, this successful armament separation test using the IRIS-T was conducted on 4 April. β€œThe AIM-2000 used in this test has a different firing method [compared with the] Meteor [air-to-air missile] used in the armed separation test on March 28,” DAPA said in a statement that accompanied the video.

The launch of the missile confirms that the IRIS-T will be integrated with the KF-21 aircraft. Earlier, South Korea had only announced that it would equip the KF-21 with the missile.

The video showed that the second KF-21 prototype was used for the weapons-launching test. The imagery showed the aircraft was equipped with at least two IRIS-T and two Meteor missiles in the aircraft's semi-recessed missile bay in the ventral area.

DAPA said that unlike the Meteor air-to-air missile, which was previously launched on 28 March from the semi-recessed missile bay, the IRIS-T was launched using a rail-type wing mount.

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