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South Korea’s indigenous KF-21 fighter jet program is experiencing a surge in development, with a particular focus on enhancing its air-to-air and air-to-surface strike capabilities. Here’s a breakdown of the key advancements:

South Korea has officially launched the “Long-range Air-to-Air missile-II” program for the KF-21. This signifies a significant step towards equipping the fighter jet with advanced long-range aerial combat capabilities.

The LR-AAM program will progress alongside the “Short-range Air-to-Air missile-II” program, providing the KF-21 with a two-tiered response to aerial threats. Interestingly, the basic hardware components for the Long-range AAM, including the solid fuel propellant, engine design, and aerodynamics, will be shared with the “Air-to-Ship Missile-II.” This approach streamlines development and potentially reduces costs.

The development of the KF-21’s offensive capabilities extends far beyond just air-to-air missiles. Programs for various air-to-surface strike missiles are underway, including supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles, Air-Launched Ballistic Missiles (ALBM), Air-Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCM), and anti-radiation missiles.

Currently, the KF-21 Block-I relies on foreign air-to-air missiles like IRIS-T and Meteor. The ongoing missile development programs aim to equip future KF-21 variants with indigenous weaponry, reducing dependence on external suppliers.

The focus on long-range air combat capabilities, diverse air-to-surface strike options, and indigenous weapon development signifies a major leap forward for the Korean aerospace industry. The success of these programs will equip the KF-21 with a robust offensive arsenal, making it a more potent force in regional air defense.