Saturday, August 17, 2013

South Korea's FX fighter competition... And then there were two.

Looks like the F-35 will have to sit the rest of this one out.
Two of the three manufacturers vying for South Korea's FX fighter competition have both submitted bids under the US $7.2 billion dollar budget.  This effectively excludes the the third, as Seoul has made it very clear that none of the manufacturers could make it under the proposed budget, steps would be taken to restart the process from scratch.

F-15SE "Silent Eagle"

Both Boeing and Eurofighter have submitted last minute bids that undercut the budget limit.  Doing so, the F-15SE "Silent Eagle" and Typhoon tranche 3.  Unsurprisingly, it was Lockheed Martin that was unable to follow suit with the F-35A.  The Pentagon's foreign military sales program (FMS) forbids foreign military buyers from getting a better price than the U.S. military.

Currently, the F-15SE would seem like the favorite, as S. Korea has never before bought European jets, and the ROKAF already flies the similar F-15K "Slam Eagle".  This makes transition a snap, with less of a "learning curve" associated than fielding an entirely different aircraft.

Eurofighter Typhoon, with a $2 billion "rebate".

Not to be outdone, however, EADS (part of the Eurofighter consortium) has offered $2 billion worth of assistance for development of South Korea's planned indigenous K-FX stealth fighter program.  The Eurofighter Typhoon is also the only jet of the three that is currently in operation and full production.  Of the three, it promises the least amount of risk.

The final decision should arrive sometime in September.  Stay tuned.

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