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FA-50, KF-21 Fighter Aircrafts To Get MBDA’s SPEAR, ASRAAM, Brimstone Missiles

Will the 18 units of FA-50 Block 20 light fighter aircraft that the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) is set to acquire in 2026 also be equipped with missiles SPEAR, ASRAAM, and Brimstone manufactured by MBDA?

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) —The FA-50 “Fighting Eagle” light combat aircraft is slated to be equipped with guided munitions such as SPEAR, ASRAAM, and Brimstone, following a collaborative effort between Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and MBDA to integrate these guided munitions into both the FA-50 and the 4.5 generation KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft currently under development.

KAI and MBDA have already collaborated in integrating Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air guided missile “METEOR” into the KF-21 “Boramae” aircraft.

“Currently, there is a high demand for various weapon systems. We will collaborate with MBDA to enhance the capabilities of our aircraft for our customers,” said Kang Goo-young, KAI chief executive officer.

The SPEAR, ASRAAM, and Brimstone missiles, manufactured by MBDA, would not only be used by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF)  KF-21 and FA-50 aircraft but also by other countries employing these aircraft.

Currently, besides South Korea, several other countries operate the FA-50 light fighter aircraft manufactured by KAI, including Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and recently Poland, as well as the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

Now, the users of the FA-50 light fighter aircraft have the option to choose between intergrating weapon systems manufactured by American defense companies such as Lockheed Martin and RTX (Raytheon), or opt for European defense firms’ weaponry, such as MBDA. 

FA-50
“SPEAR” air-to-ground missile
FA-50
“ASRAAM” air-to-air missile

 

It is highly advantageous to have such choices, providing the flexibility to select either American or European systems.

Malaysia signed a deal for 18 FA-50 Block 20 aircraft worth RM4 billion with KAI during LIMA 2023 in Langkawi last May and will begin receiving the aircraft in 2026.

The question arises whether the 18 FA-50 Block 20 aircraft to be acquired by RMAF in 2026 will also be equipped with guided missiles SPEAR, ASRAAM, and Brimstone.

During the LIMA 2023 exhibition in Langkawi last May, KAI’s senior management also stated that RMAF is among the air forces with significant potential to acquire the fourth-generation 4.5 KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft.

“SPEAR” (Select Precision Effects At Range) is an air-to-ground guided missile with the capability to accurately engage targets within a range of 130km to 140km without causing collateral damage. The MBDA air-to-ground guided missile is also referred to as a mini-cruise missile.

As for “ASRAAM” (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile), it is a short-range air-to-air guided missile currently used by the British Royal Air Force to replace the American AIM-9 short-range air-to-air guided missile.

FA-50
“Brimstone” air-to-ground missile
KF-21
 The KF-21 “Boramae” launching the long-range air-to-air missile “METEOR” during trial.

 

The ASRAAM short-range air-to-air guided missile is also utilized by the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft of the British Royal Air Force, with the ability to engage aerial targets at a distance of 25km and beyond.

While “METEOR” serves as a long-range air-to-air guided missile or BVR, the “ASRAAM” guided missile is designed to eliminate enemy threats at shorter distances.

 On the other hand, “Brimstone” is an air-to-ground guided missile produced by MBDA, capable of engaging targets within a range of 20km to 25km. — DSA

 

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