MORE SOUTH KOREAN SHENANIGANS
|KFX concept sketch.|
When South Korea announced plans to buy 40 F-35 Lightning IIs last year, part of the justification was that South Korea would have access to technologies to help it build its own indigenous fighter. That no longer seems to be the case.
The South Korean F-35 acquisition has been controversial at best. The JSF was first considered too expensive to procure, only for the bidding process to be abandoned and the F-35 chosen anyway. While both Eurofighter and Boeing were able to get their Typhoon and Silent Eagle bids under the $7.2 billion (US) budget, that same money could only swing 40 F-35s.
It makes you wonder how much further the South Korean deal will be altered.
RISE IN US DOLLAR EQUALS RISE IN F-35 COST
There is a great deal of bluster about how much cheaper the F-35 is getting as it nears full-rate production. This may or may not be true for the USA, but it is certainly false for the rest of us given the rise in the value of the US dollar.
Over the past 18 months, the US dollar has risen 30%. This has left foreign F-35 buyers holding the bag, as JSF contracts are paid in American greenbacks. A 3-4% reduction in production costs pales in comparison. This leaves committed nations like Norway is the unenviable position of either reducing its order or upping its budget.
For non-commited nations like Canada, currency fluctuations alone may make the aircraft unaffordable.
A strong US economy could very well have a deep impact on foreign F-35 sales.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
|Elephant... Republican... Get it?|
This one may seem a little out there to those uninterested in US politics (I don't blame you), but stay with me.
John Boehner's recent resignation as Speaker of the House due to dissent in the Republican party signifies a worrying prospect. Corporate Republicans are being pushed out in favor of Tea Party Republicans. This is causing a schism in the GOP,
Tea Party Republicans have been furious over Boehner's insistence on keeping the government running. Instead, Tea Party members insist that Planned Parenthood be defunded, even if it means shutting down the government to prove their point.
So why bring this up?
Being an old-school "corporate Republican", Boehner had no issue approving military spending. He was a champion for the F-35's alternate engine program. Not only that, but his ouster increases the risk of American military spending cuts and/or government shut-down. Both of which would have a profound effect on F-35 production.
The F-35 just lost one of its most powerful allies.