Thursday, September 26, 2013

F-35: More on the South Korean decision to reopen the bid

As mentioned the other day, it appears that internal pressure may have pushed the government to rethink buying F-15SE's for South Korea:
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Eurofighter’s Typhoon were both in contention for the contract, but both were knocked out when they couldn’t meet budget requirements. Still, as South Korea’s decision date neared, some in the country urged the Defense Ministry to reconsider, including 15 retired Air Force chiefs of staff who urged President Park Geun-hye to buy a stealthier plane capable of striking targets in neighboring North Korea, if necessary.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry said officials there ultimately decided their nation needed better air power in line with an international trend to develop “fifth generation” fighters, and said the rejection of Boeing’s bid was made in consideration of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and other factors.

“It’s pretty simple,” said defense analyst Loren Thompson at the Washington-area think-tank The Lexington Institute. “You can’t let cost decide the outcome of a weapons competition when national survival is at stake. The F-15 has better price. The F-35 has better performance.”
Let's face it - it's the future.  That's where it is all headed.  And South Korea's airforce knows how powerful the capabilities and interoperability will be among allies (think synergy of the type they've never enjoyed before).

And even though Boeing claims the F-15 is still relevant, one has to wonder:
The company said Tuesday that “interest remains high” from countries in the Middle East and Asia. But defense analyst Richard Aboulafia of The Teal Group said any new orders [for the F-15] would probably be small.

“It’s always been a very limited user pool,” he said, noting that only five countries, including the U.S., fly the F-15. “I don’t think you’re going to add a new user at this point. Maybe the Saudis will buy a few more. Conceivably a few more for Singapore. That’s it.”


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