Locally known as “400mm-class Air-to-Ship Guided Missile-II” (400mm급 공대함유도탄-II), this missile features a ducted ramjet propulsion with range of 500km. It is expected to undergo live fire testing in 2026 and enter service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) next generation fighter, the KF-X, in the late 2020s or early 2030s.
Contacted by Naval News, a Korean defense industry source confirmed that this missile is being developed by local missile systems manufacturer LIG Nex1 with the ADD (Agency for Defense Development, 국방과학연구소). According to the unofficial “Republic of Korea Armed Forces” Facebook page (a reliable source of Korean military information with over 50,000 followers), this particular missile is a separate project from the Republic of Korea Navy’s elusive supersonic anti-ship missile.
In addition to the procurement of Meteor long range air-to-air missiles for KF-X, South Korea is developing its own long range, ramjet-powered, beyond visual range (BVR) missile. According to an ADD publication (Defense Science and Technology Plus No. 248 2nd Quarter 2020), core technologies researched for the “400mm-class Air-to-Ship Guided Missile-II” will be applied to the new BVR air to air missile. Technologies such as “ramjet engine, and data link technologies secured while preparing for the development of the air-to-ship-II missile will be able to be applied to the domestic development of 200mm air-to-air missile without much difficulty”. It is likely that the “400mm” anti-ship missile and the “200mm” air to air missile will share the same design concept and shape, although their main components are different in size. Through this “same design but smaller size” approach, the ADD believes that it will lower the mass production costs for the ducted ramjet missile, which is pointed out as a relative disadvantage compared to the production of solid rocket propulsion missile.
In addition to the supersonic anti-ship missile, LIG Nex1’s future cruise missile for the KF-X which was unveiled at Seoul Airshow (ADEX) 2019, will be fitted with an IIR seeker and as such may be able to target moving targets at sea, besides its primary role of land attack. Here is our coverage on this missile at ADEX 2019: