MBDA and Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) have signed an agreement to deepen cooperation, which will see new missile systems integrated into South Korea’s fighters, as well as potential joint export opportunities.

In a 24 November release, European missile manufacturer MBDA stated that the company is already working with KAI to integrate its Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile on the KAI-led KF-21 Boromae fighter aircraft.

Examples of areas of cooperation being explored under the new agreement include the integration of MBDA munitions such as SPEAR, ASRAAM and Brimstone into KAI platforms such as KF-21 and FA-50, and the export of the above platforms and missiles, stated MBDA.

The agreement was signed on 20 November by Chris Allam, managing director of MBDA UK, and Kang Goo-young, CEO of KAI, in London during a Korean State visit to the UK.

(From left): Chris Allam, managing director of MBDA UK, and Kang Goo-young, CEO of KAI. Credit: MBDA.

Kang Goo-young stated: “Recently, there has been growing global demand for various armaments. We will work with MBDA to propose enhanced domestic fighter aircraft to our customers.”

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By GlobalData

Global fixed-wing military market to expand

According to analysis by GlobalData, the global military fixed-wing aircraft market is worth $71.7bn in 2023 and will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.4% to reach a value of $110.6bn by 2033.

The North American region is expected to maintain its leading position globally owing to the high-value multi-year procurement programmes of the US Armed Forces. However, the Asia-Pacific region will hold the second-largest position globally with a CAGR of 4% over the forecast period.

Although China and India continue to fuel the region’s military fixed-wing market growth, increasing demand from other key regional militaries such as Japan, Indonesia and South Korea is also expected to further propel market growth, GlobalData forecasts.

Several emerging militaries in Africa and Middle East regions, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others, are also procuring 4.5 generation combat aircraft in the years ahead.

KF-21 Boromae: South Korea’s indigenous fighter

Earlier this year, KAI achieved a milestone in the KF-21 fighter programme, completing the first test flight of the prototype aircraft. South Korea is set to receive 40 KF-21s by 2028, with plans to put an additional 80 jets into service by 2032.

The KF-21 Boramae programme signifies a significant investment in South Korea’s defence sector with a projected contract allocation of $7.8bn over 2023–33. Each KF-21 unit is estimated to cost approximately $65m (Won84.9bn).

Additional reporting by Harry McNeil.