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After Russia’s “Pantsir”, Saudi Arabia Acquires South Korean Air Defense System “KM-SAM”

As reported by international defense media, Saudi Arabia is said to have signed a contract worth $3.2 billion (RM15.25 billion) in November last year to acquire the aforementioned medium-range air defense system, further solidifies South Korea's position as a major global arms supplier, following the United States, Russia, and Europe.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Only a few days after it was revealed that Saudi Arabia emerged as the latest buyer of the “Pantsir” short-range air defense system, the Arab nation is now reported to have become a customer for South Korea’s medium-range air defense system, KM-SAM.

As reported by international defense media, Saudi Arabia is said to have signed a contract worth $3.2 billion (RM15.25 billion) in November last year to acquire the aforementioned medium-range air defense system, further solidifies South Korea’s position as a major global arms supplier, following the United States, Russia, and Europe.

Riyadh’s decision to acquire the South Korean-made medium-range air defense system was recently disclosed when Saudi Arabia hosted the World Defense Show 2024.

The oil-rich Arab nation is reported to have obtained 10 units of this air defense system, following in the footsteps of its neighbor, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which also acquired a similar system valued at $3.5 billion (RM16.68 billion) in January 2022.

LIG Nex1 is the responsible entity for developing the medium-range air defense system, along with other companies such as Hanwha Systems, contributing to the radar system, and Hanwha Aerospace, supplying the launcher vehicles.

KS-SAM
KM-SAM air defence system was also offered to Malaysia to fulfill its need for a Medium Range Air Defence System (MERAD)

 

This medium-range air defense system is capable of intercepting aircraft and ballistic guided projectiles, a capability highly sought after by Saudi Arabia to counter ballistic missile attacks launched by the Houthi armed group in Yemen.

In October of the previous year, it was reported that Saudi Arabia was in the “final stages” of negotiations with South Korea to purchase a substantial amount of weaponry from the East Asian country, which emerged as the fourth-largest arms exporter in the world in 2022.

During a briefing to the media in Saudi Arabia, Deputy Director of National Security for South Korea, Kim Tae-hyo, stated that the final-stage negotiations underscored the importance of defense relations between the two countries.

Among the South Korean defense systems drawing attention from Saudi Arabia is the “Cheongung II (KM-SAM Block II)” air defense system, also known as “Korea Patriot,” developed by LIG Nex1.

The KM-SAM Block II system serves as the foundation for the Korea Air and Missile Defense System (KAMD) and is capable of targeting objects up to 70km away with an accuracy ranging from 80 to 95 percent.

KM-SAM

The KM-SAM Block 1 system, designed initially for downing aircraft, entered service with the South Korean military in 2015. LIG Nex1 is also reportedly keen on offering the KM-SAM Block 1 system to the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), which is seeking the Medium Range Air Defense System (MERAD).

An intriguing feature of the KM-SAM medium-range air defense system is that it is the only MERAD system with technological DNA derived from both Western and Russian designs.

The KM-SAM system, also known as “Cheongung” in Korea, is a South Korean medium-range air defense system developed by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) with technical assistance from the renowned Russian firm Almaz-Antey, known for the development of air defense systems such as the S-300, S-400, and the latest S-500.

The standard composition of the KM-SAM system includes a Fire Control Center (FCC), a Multifunction Radar (MFR), and several Transporter Erector Launchers (TEL), capable of carrying up to eight guided missiles for the respective system.

The 3D Passive Electronically Scanned Array (PESA) X-Band radar of the KM-SAM system has the capability to detect targets up to 100km away and simultaneously track up to 40 targets. — DSA

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