Thursday, October 24, 2013

South Korea may be on the brink of ordering F-35s

I don't think this will come as a huge surprise to anyone who has been following this closely:
South Korea is nearing a decision to buy some Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets, but may keep its options open for a limited purchase of Boeing Co's F-15, sources familiar with the country's fighter competition said on Wednesday.

South Korean officials could announce their plans as early as November to secure the funding needed to ensure initial deliveries of the F-35 in 2017, according to multiple sources who were not authorized to speak publicly. They cautioned that the decisions were not yet final, and an announcement could still be postponed if the decision-making process hits a snag.

South Korea's fighter competition has been closely watched given its importance to Boeing, which is keen to extend its F-15 production line beyond 2018, and to Lockheed, which is trying to drive down the price of the F-35 by securing more buyers.
I've mentioned before I thought they'd buy both aircraft.  But it is clear that the F-35 is the clearly desired aircraft, especially by the ROK Airforce.  I'm of the opinion that the former bidding process was used to get the ROK a better deal on the F-35.  But in the end, especially considering that the US, Japan, Singapore and Australia all will be flying the F-35, the decision was all but obvious. 

And, as the last paragraph points out, a South Korean order will indeed help build that economy of scale that should see prices continue to come down.


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