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F-16 Peace Bridge - Korean Fighter Program

In December 1981, the Republic of Korea signed a letter of agreement for the purchase of 36 F-16C/D Block 32 Fighting Falcons under the Peace Bridge Foreign Military Sales program. This made the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) the first foreign operator of the F-16C model of the Fighting Falcon. Funds remaining in the Peace Bridge program allowed the ROKAF to purchase four additional F-16 Block 32 aircraft in June 1988.

The FX program was the first phase in the ROKAF 2000 plan. In August 1989, the name of the program was changed from FX to the Korean Fighter Program (KFP) to distinguish it from the U.S.-Japan FS-X arrangement which was embroiled in controversy at the time.

In December 1989, Korea selected the F/A-18, and in October 1990, the U.S. and Korean governments initialed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the program. In November 1990, however, Korea announced it was reevaluating its decision to select the F/A-18, and in March 1991, Korea announced the selection of the F-16 instead. Although Korea had a military need for the fighter aircraft, the Koreans' desire for a coproduction program was driven by their aerospace industrial development goals and interests.

Once the F-16 had been selected, the next decision required by the ROK was the selection of an engine to power the aircraft. The choice was between General Electric's F110-129 and Pratt and Whitney's F100-229. From the beginning the Pratt engine was the reported favorite for two reasons. First, the F-13 aircraft already operated by the ROK are powered by P&W F100-220 engines. Second, Samsung Aerospace, ROK's prime contractor for the prograum has been involved in a joint venture with P&W since 1985 to repair and overhaul F100 engines. In August 1991, the ROK announced their decision to procure 132 (120 installs and 12 spares) F100-229 engines. The reasons given for the decision were the Koreans' prior experience with the F100 engine ard "Pratt's comnitment to assisting the Korean aerospace industry".

Before 1984, offsets were not mandatory in South Korea. Since 1986, however, the official ROK position on offsets is to "require a minimum of 50 percent offsets for major purchases of foreign weapons and systems. Since about 1987, though, Korea had unofficially required only 30 percent offsets for purchases from American defense contractors. Actual offsets from U.S. companies to Korean companies from 1980 through 1987 reportedly amounted to 46 percent of the value of the sales.

In 1991 Korea became the first nation to experience a US Government-imposed limitation on offsets in government-to-government programs when the Department of Defense restricted offsets in the Korean Fighter Program to 30%. The issues of technology transfer and industrial offsets remain a source of friction in the security relationship between the US and Korea.

The most vocal Congressianal opponent was Senator Alan Dixon from Illinois, who had also opposed the FS-X project. In July 1989, he and Senator Heinz introduced a resolution asking for a review of the program to include a General Accounting Office (GAO) report. Senator Dixon was later quoted in a November 1990 article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as calling the agreement a "sucker deal" and "a first step toward once again surrendering U.S. technology and expertise to be used against us".

In April 1991, in response to a request from the Defense Technology Security Agency (DTSA), the F-16 System Program Office issued a report comparing the level of technology transfer for the two programs. The report concluded that the programs differ in four essential ways. First, the FS-X will include Japanese developed avionics system while there will be no development of components or subsystems in the KFP. Second, the Japanese will be developing a new airframe, while the Koreans will simply be using existing manufacturing technology and processes to build an established airframe. Third, the Japanese were provided software development tools which the Koreans will probably not receive. Finally, the Japanese were provided with engine/aircraft integration data which the Koreans will not receive.

The Korea Fighter Program originally called for the purchase of 12 F-16s from Lockheed Martin, while Samsung was to assemble 36 and produce the last batch of 72 jets under a license agreement with the US company. In order to produce the fighters locally, a joint venture called Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) was formed between Korea's three leading aircraft makers - Samsung Aerospace, Daewoo Heavy Industries, and Hyundai Space and Aircraft. The locally produced fighter was dubbed the KF-16.

KAI, designated as prime contractor in 1986, was awarded contract from government in November 1991. Until the last KF-16 delivery, KAI successfully produced and delivered the KF-16 in time to Republic of Korea Air force. Thus, KAI finally achieved the goal of this program: the landmark strengthening of ROKAF combat readiness and domestic aerospace industries development. To implement this program, construction of Sacheon plant, 40 thousand production equipment, 18 thousand planing were done. And over 640 engineers were trained overseas and vast volume of technical data amounting to 430 thousand items were acquired. These production preparation and activities served as precious momentum for drastic national aircraft industry development.

On December 2, 1994, Korea received the first of 120 F-16s under the Korea Fighter Program. All aircraft were manufactured to the Block 52 standard and had upgraded avionics and Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engines.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company manufactured the first 12 aircraft. The next 36 were then delivered in kit form and assembled in South Korea. Samsung Aerospace built the last 72 aircraft in South Korea. South Korea is the fifth country to produce the F-16, after the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey. The first Korean-built KF-16 was delivered in June 1997. In July 2000, Korea ordered 20 additional Block 52 F-16 aircraft to be produced by Korea Aerospace Industry (KAI) under license. These aircraft comprise Korea Fighter Program II and were delivered during 2003 and 2004.

The Arms Export Control Act requires that, after September 30, 1976, letters of offer for the sale of major defense equipment shall include a proportionate amount of nonrecurring costs related to the research, development, and production of major defense equipment. DOD interpreted the act as requiring the recovery of these costs on a pro rata basis. The military services calculate the pro rata rate by dividing the total research and development and other one-time production costs by the anticipated total number of units to be produced.

Between July 1993 and November 1995, South Korea received 48 F-16 aircraft on an FMS case managed by the Air Force. No deliveries had been reported for the purpose of recovering nonrecurring research, development, and production costs. Had the Air Force followed DOD’s procedures and reported the deliveries and recouped the nonrecurring costs within 30 days of physical delivery of the aircraft, it would have already charged South Korea’s trust fund account for over $49 million of nonrecurring research, development, and production costs. Air Force and Navy officials agreed that FMS customers were not being properly charged for millions of dollars of nonrecurring costs for major defense equipment items they had received and have begun to take actions to recover the outstanding amounts.

Controversy flared when KFP program was originally winding down in early 1999. Proposals to produce up to 40 additional KF-16s were controversial because some in Korea's airforce -- reportedly including most of the pilots -- opposed the idea. The government decided to allocate a separate budget of $640 million to produce 20 more KF-16 fighters. When KAI delivered the last KF16 to the military in April 2000, the KFP had run for eight years and cost one trillion won.

In an effort to maintain momentum of national industry development as well as to futher reinforce ROKAF capability, KFP-II program for additional prodution of KF-16 was launched in July 2000, of which completion was slated in August 2004. The KFP led Korean aerospace industry to almost same level of advanced overseas countries and laid down the ground for starting of T-50 full scale development

The U.S. government on 05 November 2014 said it had canceled, at the request of South Korea, a preliminary contract with the US unit of Britain's BAE Systems (BAES.L) to upgrade 134 F-16 fighter jets, ending a major arms deal initially valued at $1.7 billion. The unusual move, announced by the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, paved the way for South Korea to pursue a similar upgrade deal with Lockheed Martin Corp, the warplanes' original manufacturer.

On 15 July 2015, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that the US State Department had made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Republic of Korea for the KF-16 Upgrade Program and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $2.5 billion. DSCA delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on 14 July 2015.

South Korea had requested a possible sale for the upgrade of 134 KF-16C/D Block 52 aircraft, to include: 150 Modular Mission Computers (MMC 7000AH), 150 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars (AESA), 150 AN/APX-125 or equivalent Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) Systems, 150 LN-260 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems, 150 Upgraded Radar Warning Receivers (RWR), 150 AN/ALQ-213 EW Management Units, 3 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) II Group C Helmets, 150 JHMCS II Group A and B, 31 Joint Mission Planning Systems (JMPS), 5 GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), 5 KMU-57C/B Bomb Tail Kits, 2 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb Guided Test Vehicles, 8 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb Tactical Training Rounds, 2 BRU-61 Small Diameter Bomb Common Carriage Assemblies, 5 MK-82 General Purpose Practice Bombs, 2 Joint Programmable Fuzes, 2 CBU-105 Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD) Sensor Fuzed Weapons (SFW), 1 CNU-411C/E, WCMD Container, 2 ATM-65 Maverick Training Missiles, 2 ATM-84 Harpoon Block II Training Missiles, 2 AGM-84 Harpoon Block II Guidance Units, 2 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles, and 1 AIM-9X-2 Guidance Unit.

Also included were containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor technical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

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