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FX-III FX-3 - F-15 vs F-35

On 22 November 2013 Korea decided to purchase the Lockheed Martin F-35A stealth fighter, as part of a program to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of fighter jets. Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the F-35A had advanced stealth capabilities such as advanced radar-evading and other avionic warfare capabilities. They said the original technical requirements for the candidate jets were altered to include advanced stealth capabilities, which experts viewed as essential to deal with the possible nuclear and missile threats from North Korea [and Chinese stealth aircraft]. South Korea will introduce Lockheed Martin's F-35A stealth fighter jets from 2018, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, noting that 40 jets will be purchased first and additional 20 combat planes will be bought later.

On 24 September 2013 South Korea re-started the FX-3 bidding process, delaying the award of the defense contract by up to a year. Boeing was the only contenders to submit a bid - $7.7 billion - that fell within the South Korean budget. But the South Korean military expressed concerns that Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle could not meet the military's operational requirements. The 2013 South Korean FX-3 competition provided a fairely robust apples-to-apples price comparison for 60 fully equiped commercial sale aircraft. The F-15 Silent Eagle aircraft unit price was $40 million, and the F-35 Lightning II aircraft unit price was $180 million. But the Silent Eagle was probably no competition for China's new J-20 stealth fighter, the ultimate standard for comparison in the region.

South Korea was originally scheduled to make their decision on three different airplanes in December 2012, but then extended that deadline for 6 more months. Seoul intended to acquire a total of 120 advanced warplanes under the F-X program. In 2002, Boeing's F-15K Eagle was selected for the 40-plane, $4.2 billion first phase of the F-X fighter modernization program, and in 2008 the firm was awarded the 20-plane, $2.4 billion second phase of F-X. The third phase of the F-X fighter acquisition program, for a further 60 aircraft, was eying the stealth F-35 of the US Lockheed Martin.

There were reports in early 2007 that the Air Force planned to purchase the newest F-35 stealth fighter jets after 2012 in the third phase of its next-generation fighter acquisition program. Previously, the F-35s were considered for the second phase of the Air Force's fighter project, under which 20 advanced aircraft of F-15K class will be purchased between 2010 and 2012. But the plan was apparently scrapped after Korea's acquisition officials hinted in January that the F-35 is not suitable for the second F-X project, saying the single-engine F-35s fail to meet the Air Force's proposed twin-engine requirement requirements. Under the plan, F-15K fighter jets will comprise a high-class fleet while KF-16 jets will be a low-class force. The F-35 Lightning-II will be assets for a medium-class fleet to maximize the Korean military's integrated operations of ground, naval and aerial forces.

Seoul planned to open bidding in 2011 and acquire 60 fifth-generation stealth jets under a $5.4 billion program, aiming to deploy the planes between 2014 and 2019. The Seoul Air Show 2007 - a six-day event formally named "the Korean Aerospace and Defense Exhibition 2007" - opened early Tuesday (Oct. 16) at a military base in Seongnam, south of Seoul, ending two years of waiting by those with a mania for defense products. Disappointing many viewers, however, Lockheed Martin did not show its Raptor or F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Instead, a mock-up of the F-35 was on display, reflecting Lockheed's push for sales to Korea. Lockheed Martin has said South Korea could receive the CTOL variant beginning in 2014 if a contract is agreed on by 2010.

But the F-35 is a midclass aircraft in terms of performance and mission requirements, which ran counter to the F-X program's original goal of acquiring high-end warplanes. Seoul preferred the F-22 stealth jet, but the US export of the jet was outlawed for the protection of related technology. South Korea, however, said it might be able to buy the F-22 if the sales ban was lifted in response to Japan's quest for the world's most advanced fighter. But production of the F-22 was completed in December 2011 with no foreign sales.

Boeing was looking to compete for a major fighter acquisition project in South Korea after receiving Pentagon approval in September 2010 to export the stealth version of its F-15 aircraft, the Silent Eagle. The F-15SE export approval for South Korea is the first of its kind, as Boeing is offering the aircraft to other current users such as Israel, Singapore and Saudi Arabia. The Boeing Company on 03 November 2010 announced that it signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to design, develop and manufacture the Conformal Weapons Bay (CWB) for the F-15 Silent Eagle. The CWB is an internal carriage that will minimize the F-15SE's radar signature and significantly increase its tactical options. The F-15SE is equipped with two internal bays and is designed for multiple carriage configurations, including advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions. The F-15 Silent Eagle is developed in response to international customer requirements for a cost-effective, high-performance fighter aircraft to defend against future threats.

By October 2015 there were rumors that Kim Kyou-hyon, by then the chief of the National Security Office (NSO), may face punishment over his role in the decision to buy 40 F-35s from Lockheed as defense minister. Kim served in the post from December 2012 to June last 2014, and headed the Defense Acquisition Program Executive Committee that selected F-35s over Boeing's F15-SEs in March last year.

At the time, controversy erupted following the decision to go with Lockheed because the decision came after the committee rejected Boeing's F-15SE, first recommended by DAPA in September 2013. DAPA officials noted that the decision to reject the F-15SE was unexpected as Boeing was more positive in handing over core technologies.

F-15 Silent Eagle

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress 29 March 2013 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Korea in support of (60) F-15 Silent Eagle aircraft being procured via Direct Commercial Sales (DCS), and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $2.408 billion. The Republic of Korea requested a possible hybrid case in support of (60) F-15 Silent Eagle aircraft being procured via Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). The proposed sale will include 60 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar (AESA) radar sets, 60 Digital Electronic Warfare Systems (DEWS), 60 AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Targeting Systems, 60 AN/AAS-42 Infrared Search and Track (IRST) Systems, 132 Ultra High Frequency/Very High Frequency (UHF/VHF) secure radio with HAVE QUICK II, 69 Link-16 Terminals and spares, the Advanced Display Core Processor II, Joint Mission Planning System, various support equipment items, GEM-V GPS airborne receiver module, and communication security; software development/integration, spares and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documents, U.S. Government and contract engineering and logistical personnel services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by meeting the legitimate security and defense needs of an ally and partner nation. The Republic of Korea continues to be an important force for peace, political stability, and economic progress in North East Asia.

The proposed sale will augment Koreas operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability, provide it with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region, and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces. The Republic of Korea Air Forces F-4 aircraft will be decommissioned as F-15SEs are added to the inventory. Korea will have no difficulty absorbing this additional equipment and support into its inventory.

The proposed sale of equipment and support will not negatively alter the basic military balance in the region. Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Korea involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews and support, program management, and training over a period of 15 years. The prime contractor will be The Boeing Corporation in St Louis, Missouri. This proposal is being offered in the context of a competition. If the proposal is accepted, it is expected that offset agreements will be required.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

Korea F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress 29 March 2013 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Korea for 60 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $10.8 billion.

The Government of the Republic of Korea has requested a possible sale of (60) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft. Aircraft will be configured with the Pratt & Whitney F-135 engines, and (9) Pratt & Whitney F-135 engines are included as spares. Other aircraft equipment includes: Electronic Warfare Systems; Command, Control, Communication, Computer and Intelligence/Communication, Navigational and Identification (C4I/CNI); Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS); Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); Full Mission Trainer; Weapons Employment Capability, and other Subsystems, Features, and Capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; reprogramming center; F-35 Performance Based Logistics. Also included: software development/integration, aircraft ferry and tanker support, support equipment, tools and test equipment, communication equipment, spares and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documents, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by meeting the legitimate security and defense needs of an ally and partner nation. The Republic of Korea continues to be an important force for peace, political stability, and economic progress in North East Asia. The proposed sale of F-35s will provide the Republic of Korea (ROK) with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces. The proposed sale will augment Koreas operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability. The ROKs Air Force F-4 aircraft will be decommissioned as F-35s are added to the inventory. Korea will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this aircraft system and support will not negatively alter the basic military balance in the region. The prime contractors will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, Texas; and Pratt & Whitney Military Engines in East Hartford, Connecticut. This proposal is being offered in the context of a competition. If the proposal is accepted, it is expected that offset agreements will be required. Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Korea involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews/support, program management, and training over a period of 15 years. U.S. contractor representatives will be required in Korea to conduct Contractor Engineering Technical Services (CETS) and Autonomic Logistics and Global Support (ALGS) for after-aircraft delivery. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness resulting from this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.




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