Sunday, August 18, 2013

Silent Eagle wins S. Korea's FX fighter competition (by default)

Winner, winner, kimchi dinner.

After eliminating the F-35 from South Korea's FX fighter competition, Seoul has now disqualified the Eurofighter Typhoon from the process as well.  Although EADS Typhoon bid came under the 8.3 trillion won ($7.2 billion US) budget, it did so by reducing the requested amount of two-seat fighter from 15 to 6, as well as basing prices on the British pound.  (S. Korea's insistence on 15 two-seat fighters begs the question of why the single-seat only F-35 was even considered).

So what can Canada learn from South Korea's FX selection?

The main reason the F-35 was disqualified was because Lockheed Martin could not offer a fixed price based on the US government's foreign military sales regulations.  By American law, no foreign country can acquire US made military hardware for less than what it costs the US military.  Since the F-35 is still in development, final pricing is still unknown.

Also, since the F-35's price will be determined by the total amount of orders it receives, its disqualification from S. Korea's FX competition will result in higher costs, since expected orders from Korea now have to be written off.

The Eurofighter's "almost-but-not-quite" bid should be considered as well.  Since Canada is more than happy to order 65 single seat F-35s for an estimated $9 billion ($138 million/plane), getting a fixed price of $7.2 billion for 54 single seat and 6 two seat Typhoons ($120 million/plane) seems like a relative bargain.

Should Canada take a closer look at the Silent Eagle?
Most importantly, South Korea's selection of the Silent Eagle should encourage Canada's interest in the F-15SE as a potential CF-18 replacement.  The F-15 has certainly proven itself as a capable and robust platform, with current F-15E Strike Eagles rated for an amazing 16,000 flight hours, with a possibility of reaching an amazing 32,000, compared to the CF-18 or F-35's 8,000.

Should Canada consider the F-15SE Silent Eagle?  It would seem as if the price is right, and with S. Korea signing on, some of the risk of ordering the platform is mitigated.  The Silent Eagle would certainly have the range, speed, and firepower needed for Canada's needs, and it offers enough interoperability to work alongside our allies without too much worry.

Either way, South Korea's decision cannot be considered good news for the F-35.

7 comments:

  1. At the end, that's the most logical choice, given the actual F-15K in inventory.


    If Boeing can propose the same price to Canada, that's very interesting. There's only 2 unknown data :
    - how much have South Koreans "saved" because they already have F-15? (training, spare parts, etc.)

    - how much will South Koreans pay to complete Silent Eagle development?
    Canada would pay the first but not the second if they choose F-15...


    Nevertheless, the is the question of life cycle costs : what does it take to maintain the heavy F-15?


    But again, if we put aside the cost, F-15 is a likely candidate if Canada is looking for a good interceptor.


    Last thing : your first picture is very interesting.
    1/ 12 AIM-120C? Impressive firepower! Only the -C variant though...
    2/ KEPD-350 Taurus recently acquired by South Korea seems to be (potentially) integrated for F-15. That's good for MBDA, the european missile maker : other F-15 users could use easily the Taurus in the future...

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  2. I think this is most excellent news! This adds to the security of western nations. If the F-35 is a dud per say doesn't develop, the US and other nation have a dependable platform to fall back on, and some of the development costs were shared by Saudi Arabia (fly by wire and such) and Korea (stealth parts). This certainly puts pressure on LM to be more competitive. I wonder what this may mean for Japan and there F-35 purchase? They could go F-35se until they develop there own stealth fighter.`

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  3. Don't worry, if F-35 fails, there is still Rafale *joke time*. But yeah, from an american point of view F-15se and maybe soon silent F/A-18 could become very good alternatives if F-35 becomes to costly and not enough efficient.


    With a Silent Eagle order, F-15 will have almost all needed capabilities for many air forces : AESA radar, new EW suite, fly-by-wire controls, stealth enhancements... What about helmet mounted display?


    Some questions though :

    -I remain cautious about stealth skills of this big and old airframe. OK for the canted fins and CFT but what else?
    -That's a heavy war machine, with high-end capabilities but probably significant maintenance cost as I've said below.


    About Japanese F-35, with an already signed order (with some revision clauses though), a decision change seems unlikely, don't you think?

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  4. I'm unable to find a "readable" version of your second picture Doug (the Silent Eagle cut-away). Did you find one?

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  5. Sorry, that was one of the bigger ones. None of them are very readable. If you find one, let me know!

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  6. I found a slightly better one : http://www.flightglobal.com/Assets/GetAsset.aspx?ItemID=44298



    We're beginning to see some labels, but not clearly the whole list... apparently, we'll need image processing or a credit card to get better. :D

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  7. Thanks. If you squint real hard... You can almost read it!

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