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South Korea Attempts to Draw Malaysia’s Attention to MERAD System “KM-SAM (Cheongung)”

Several international defense portals have reported that following the successful sale of FA-50M light fighter jets to Malaysia, South Korea is now endeavoring to attract Malaysia's interest in its domestically developed medium-range air defense system (MERAD).

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — After Malaysia signed a contract to acquire 18 FA-50M light fighter jets worth approximately RM4 billion from South Korea, the defense relationship between the two countries has undoubtedly strengthened.

During the recent DSA & NATSEC 2024, Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin welcomed a visit from the South Korean Minister of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), Major General (Retired) Seok Jong Gun.

According to a statement released by the Malaysian Ministry of Defense, their discussions focused on the future direction of the defense industry for both nations.

Following the successful sale of the FA-50M light fighter jets to Malaysia, South Korea is now attempting to draw Malaysia’s interest toward its medium-range air defense system (MERAD), developed by the country’s defense industry.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has requested one battery of the Medium Range Air Defense Missile System (MERAD) as part of Malaysia’s 12th Plan (RMK-12).

Korea Selatan
“KM-SAM”

 

In the RMAF’s CAP55 development planning, it is outlined that the acquisition of up to four batteries of the medium-range air defense system (MERAD) will commence from the 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-25) through to the 15th Malaysia Plan (2035-2040).

The acquisition of the MERAD system is aimed at strengthening the country’s air defense system, which currently relies on several short-range air defense systems such as Igla, FN6, Rapier, Jernas, and Starstreak.

The MERAD system, promoted by South Korea to Malaysia, is known as “KM-SAM” or in Korean, “Cheongung” or Cheolmae II.

An intriguing feature of the KM-SAM medium-range air defense system is that it is the only MERAD system that incorporates technological DNA from both the Western Block and Russia.

 It is a South Korean medium-range air defense system developed by LIG Nex1, Agency for Defense Development (ADD) with technical assistance from Russia’s Almaz-Antey, known for developing the S-300, S-400, and the latest, S-500 air defense systems.

Korea Selatan
“KM-SAM”

 

Also involved in the development of this air defense system are Hanwha Systems, which developed its radar system, and Hanwha Aerospace, which supplies the launching vehicles.

Inspired by Russian defense firm Almaz-Antey’s renowned air defense systems like the S-300 and S-400, the standard composition of the KM-SAM system includes a Fire Control Centre (FCC), a Multifunction Radar (MFR), and several Transporter Erector Launchers (TEL) capable of carrying up to eight missiles.

The KM-SAM system’s 3D Multi-Function Passive Electronically Scanned Array (PESA) X-Band radar can detect targets up to 100 km away and track up to 40 targets simultaneously.

The medium-range air defense system can engage aerial targets at heights of up to 15 km (49,000 feet) and distances of 40 km.

Recently, Saudi Arabia was reported to have become a customer of the South Korean-made medium-range air defense system, KM-SAM Block II (the latest variant of KM-SAM).

KM-SAM
“KM-SAM”

 

 As reported by international defense media, Saudi Arabia signed a contract worth US$3.2 billion (RM15.25 billion) last November to acquire the medium-range air defense system.

 The purchase by Saudi Arabia further solidifies South Korea’s position as a major global arms supplier, following the United States, Russia, and Europe.

 The decision by Riyadh to acquire the South Korean-made medium-range air defense system was only made public recently when Saudi Arabia hosted the World Defense Show 2024.

The oil-rich Arab nation is reported to have acquired 10 units of the system, following in the footsteps of its neighbor, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which also acquired the same system worth US$3.5 billion (RM16.68 billion) in January 2022.

During the LIMA 2023 exhibition in Langkawi in May last year, an official from LIG Nex1 told Defence Security Asia that the company had received a Request For Information (RFI) from Malaysia’s Ministry of Defense about the KM-SAM system developed by the company.

KS-SAM

“Yes, we did receive a Request For Information from Malaysia’s Ministry of Defence on the KM-SAM system sometime last year,” said the official.

The RFI request is a standard procedure for the Ministry of Defense to gather detailed information about defense systems from various companies. – DSA

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