|South Korean F-4 Phantom II, due for replacement.|
Previously, I mentioned South Korea's "F-X" fighter competition as "one to watch"since it pitted the F-35 against the Eurofighter and Silent Eagle... Well, you might as well watch paint dry, because nothing is happening.
Seoul has suspended the program because none of the bids have come under the $7.2 billion (US) budget. Well, duh.
Canada has allotted $9 billion for 65 aircraft, not counting long term costs. South Korea wants 60, so the budgets are way off for a similar amount of aircraft. Did Seoul believe that the manufacturers would keep undercutting each other until jets were being sold at a loss? That doesn't happen.
So what happens next? Will South Korea up the budget? Will it reduce the amount of aircraft needed? Or will it simply wait until one of the manufacturers comes in with an acceptable offer? Eurofighter has recently made claims about lowering the Typhoon's cost, but real life suggests otherwise. Lockheed Martin has also claimed that costs are coming down for the JSF, but some say this is due strictly to number juggling. All three manufacturers have offered up attractive industrial offsets, as well as assistance developing South Korea's KF-X fighter.
One thing is for sure, fighter jets are expensive.