Monday, April 8, 2013

South Korea indicates it is down to two fighters, F-35 included

Yet another Asian ally is showing indications that its choice for its future fighter might be the F-35:
The US Department of Defense formally notified the US Congress of potential sales of the Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to South Korea on 29 March. The two aircraft are on offer to the Asian nation as part of South Korea's F-X III fighter competition. The Eurofighter Typhoon is a third contender for the 60 aircraft tender.

For the potential F-35 sale, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) says that South Korea could order 60 conventional A-model aircraft and associated support equipment for $10.8 billion. There would also be provisions for spares including nine additional Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofans. The package would also encompass training-including simulators.
If I had to guess, and that's all this is, I could see South Korea opting for both.  The F-15SE would fulfill it's near future needs, give it a 4th generation plus capability and allow it to begin it's phase out of older fighters.  It might also buy some F-35s which would then give them 5th generation capabilities that go far beyond the F-15SE's and would allow much better joint interoperability among their allies.

To be on the safe side the Flight Global argument includes this caveat:
Lockheed Martin says that it is pleased that the formal Congressional notification process is now under way, but notes that the competing bids are still being evaluated by Korea and price discussions are "on-going".
That said:
While he does not rule out the possibility that South Korea will opt for the Typhoon, Raymond Jaworowski, an analyst with Forecast International, says the contest will most like come down to a battle between the F-35 and the Silent Eagle. "The F-15 and the F-35 are the frontrunners," he says. "South Korea has previously bought US fighter aircraft and it seems likely that's the way they'll go for this buy."

In the Silent Eagle's favour is the fact that South Korea already has the older F-15K Slam Eagle in service. "The commonality factor will come into play," Jaworowski says. "On the other hand, the F-35 is more and more becoming the dominant fighter on the market."

Other factors that play in the F-35's favour are the fact that Japan has already ordered the stealthy fifth-generation jet and growing threats in the region. But given the state of the South Korean tender, "I think at this point it's too early to predict between the F-35 and the F-15," Jaworowski says.
As we've seen with Singapore and Japan, the F-35 ended up being the aircraft of choice.  Don't rule out a mix which includes some F-15SE's but look for the F-35 to go to South Korea in the end.


No comments:

Post a Comment