The Chiron system itself has been favorably compared to other international man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), such as the American FIM-92 Stinger.

The arms race in Europe is opening up great opportunities for defense contractors. South Korea is emerging as a major supplier of military equipment to European partners, rising to be one of the world’s leading arms exporters. According to Armyrecognition, Romania most likely purchased 54 Chiron portable surface-to-air missile systems (also known as KP-SAM) from South Korea. High quality, relatively affordable unit price, and no accompanying binding terms are the factors that make Korean weapons increasingly popular.

This acquisition marks a development in Romania’s military capabilities and is part of a broader agreement that includes cooperation in various areas of military technology, such as anti-air systems, vehicles, and ammunition. This deal also highlights the strategic partnership between Romania and South Korea in the field of defense and security.

The Chiron system itself has been favorably compared to other international man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), such as the American FIM-92 Stinger and the French Mistral, in terms of hit probability, price, and portability. KP-SAM is manufactured by LIG Nex1 of Korea, and is marketed internationally as the Chiron.

KP-SAM entered service with the South Korean Army in 2005. In 2014, Indonesia bought the KP-SAM for integration with the Skyshield 35 mm anti-aircraft system. And now Romania will be the next customer of this air defense system. The unit cost of the KP-SAM was around 2.6 million euros in 2023.

The missile system externally resembles a French Mistral system, the entire missile system including the seeker, control section, warhead and motor were developed and manufactured in South Korea. The missile features integrated IFF systems, night and adverse weather capabilities, a two-colour infrared seeker to aid in negating infrared countermeasures (IRCM) and a proximity-fuse warhead. During development tests the missile scored a 90% hit ratio.

The KP-SAM stands out with its lightweight and manageable design, weighing 24.3 kg for the launcher. The missile itself is 1.68 m long and 80 mm in diameter, making it relatively compact. The system’s modular design allows for operation either by a two-person crew from a tripod or by a single operator holding it directly, thus offering significant operational flexibility in the field.

The maximum firing range is 7 kilometers, notable for a MANPADS system. It is equipped with a 2.5 kg military head, sufficient to inflict significant damage on the targeted threat. The missile is powered by a solid fuel engine and can reach an impressive maximum speed of Mach 2.1.

The infrared homing guidance system allows the missile to effectively track its target based on infrared emissions, making it particularly effective against a variety of aerial targets, including fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, drones, and cruise missiles. The infrared guidance capability also makes the Chiron system difficult to detect and counter, thereby increasing its effectiveness on the battlefield.

In another development also related to the MANPADS air defense system, Georgia has reached an agreement with Poland to purchase the Piorun-M air defense missile systems. Poland and Georgia have a history of close relations. The defense collaboration between the two countries has been marked by significant developments, such as Georgia’s acquisition, reflecting Georgia’s commitment to modernizing its military in line with NATO standards.

The Piorun-M, also called GROM-M and colloquially termed “Thunder,” represents an advanced iteration of the GROM MANPADS. Developed by the Polish company MESKO, this system is a modernized successor to the Soviet-era 9K38 Igla.

Featuring a new missile equipped with an updated warhead, the Piorun MANPADS boasts an effective range between 400 meters and 6 kilometers, capable of engaging targets at altitudes ranging from a minimum of 10 meters up to a maximum of 4 kilometers. The missile itself weighs 2 kilograms and is designed for enhanced effectiveness against small-sized aerial targets, including UAVs, thanks to its proximity fuse. Even under conditions of jamming, the Piorun’s missile maintains a significant hit probability of 10%.

The fact that Romania or Georgia are strengthening their short-range air defense systems represents a strategic move to improve their defense capabilities, reflecting broader trends among NATO nations against emerging threats. These military deals signal the growth of the global arms market.

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