South Korea’s New Missiles to Provide Air Superiority Over North Korea
John Kim, Oct. 13, 2015, 10:26 a.m.
A newly developed airborne missile by European missile manufacturer MBDA will provide South Korea with "air superiority" over North Korea and other powerful neighbors if they are loaded onto the F-35 combat fighters to be delivered to the country in the coming years, the firm's official said Tuesday.
Under a deal signed last year, South Korea will bring in 40 F-35A jet fighters, the fifth-generation platform with stealth capacities from Lockheed Martin, from 2018 to 2021 to better guard against North Korean threats.
The F-35A fleet will initially be equipped with the U.S.' AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), but through software integration, the jet fighters could gain compatibility with MBDA's new missile Meteor, export sales executive Leo Alfano said in a press roundtable in Seoul.
The most notable of Meteor's functions is its superior no-escape zone, or operation range, which is about three times larger than that of the U.S. AMRAAM, Alfano said. With Meteor's expanded range, three combat jets equipped with the missiles could cover the entire length of the inter-Korean land border, which is more cost effective despite the higher per-unit price of the Meteor, according to the MBDA official.
Asked how many combat jets are needed to perform the same job with AMRAAM missiles, he said about a dozen will be needed. The introduction of the Meteor will provide South Korea with "air superiority" over the advancing air power of North Korea and other neighbors like China and Russi, he noted.
With funding from Britain, MBDA has developed the technology to integrate the European missile to the U.S.-made F-35 and if South Korea chooses to adopt it, MBDA will provide the integration technology, he said. The Meteor is a strategic weapon developed under a six-nation joint program involving Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden, to equip their fleets of Eurofighter Typhoons and F-35s.