The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has started receiving its new Taurus KEPD 350K air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM), IHS Jane’s Defense reported on Friday, when the first delivery was announced. The new ALCMs, designed by a joint German-Swedish partnership, will be integrated into the ROKAF’s existing Boeing F-15K Slam Eagle multi-role fighters.
According to Jane’s, “an undisclosed number of missiles were formally handed over to the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF).” The missiles were handed over at a ceremony at Taurus Systems’ headquarters in Germany.
Taurus describes the KEPD 350 as “a modular stand-off missile system for precision strikes against hardened and high-value point and area targets.” The missile is designed to “fly through dense air defences at a very low, terrain-hugging level and kill high-value targets.”
The system is currently operated extensively by Germany, which purchased 600 units for its air force, and Spain. Germany uses the missile on its fleet of Panavia Tornado multirole combat aircraft. The Spanish Air Force has armed its Eurofighter Typhoons and Boeing EF-18 Hornets with the system.
South Korean F-15Ks can accommodate a weapons payload of over 13,000 kilograms. ROKAF’s existing F-15K armaments include several air-to-air systems, including a 20mm cannon, AIM-9 Sidewinder guided missiles (infrared guided), AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles (radar guided), and AIM-120 medium-range air-to-air missiles, among other systems.
With a range of 350 to 500 kilometers, the South Korean variant of the KEPD 350 is capable of terrain-hugging low-altitude flight at near-supersonic speeds. The KEPD 350K is armed with a penetrator warhead, dubbed the Multi-Effect Penetrator Highly Sophisticated and Target Optimised (MEPHISTO), to strike at hardened targets such as bunkers.
South Korea decided to opt for the KEPD 350 variant from Germany after having a request to purchase U.S.-made Lockheed Martin Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSMs) denied. Though the exact number of missiles on order by the ROKAF is not known, reports have suggested that South Korea is looking to purchase between 170 to 200 KEPD 350K ALCMs.