South Korea Could Make a decision in icts FX III competition for 60 fighters by mid-year, and is considerable emphasis on Placing offsets and technology transfer.
Although industry sources HAD Said the competition was to be decided late last year, one says the step was delayed by South Korea's presidential election on 19 December 2012.
"DAPA [the Defense Acquisition Program Administration] is still looking at Costs Involved with the various aircraft," says the source. "They have yet to really start pushing for ways to push Costs down. We're still some way from a conclusion. Heard That We've come a decision by mid-Could 2013."
The three rivals are the requirement for the Boeing F-15 Silent Eagle, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35, with the companies HAVING Submitted formal bids in June 2012. The winner will replace the South Korean air force's obsolete fleet of McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantoms.
Appears Seoul still adamant about using the FX III deal to gain technological know-how for icts K-FX indigenous fighter program. One source says the contest Involved in DAPA's queries in recent months focused on Have Been technology transfer. Another source in Seoul says the issue of K-FX comes up in meetings Frequently about the deal.
K-FX is apparently a sensitive topic with the companies and gouvernements Involved in FX III. Aside from the extensive intellectual property, Seoul wants to economic development of the aircraft, Which Sees it as possible, Lockheed F-16 replacement. However, some industry APÉNDICE Have Questioned icts development costs - and the fait que Indonesia is a 20% partner in the program.
The degree to Which K-FX considerations will weigh against Purely operational matters in the FX III decision is not clear. Nevertheless, all three rivals Publicly Promoted Have Their Support for South Korean industry.
As for the aircraft Themselves, the F-35 and F-15SE - a low observable variant of the F-15E - are seen as the front-runners for the requirement. South Korean assessment teams visited the USA in 2012 to Evaluate the pair.
"During a Rigorous assessment process, [Republic of Korea Air Force] pilots Were ble to for Assessment Virtually every aspect of the F-35 through technical briefings, laboratory observations, production line tours, detailed examinations of F-35 Production aircraft, facility tours and Both simulator and actual F-35 flights, "says Lockheed.
South Korean pilots did not fly the F-35 Itself, it aims Observed from a two-seat F-16.
Eurofighter evaluations Took place in Spain in mid-2012 and 15 flights Involved. The aircraft used the Typhoon's Involved Phase 1 Enhancement software package, Which will be used in the Tranche 3 has-beens That guy pitched for FX III. The new software Greatly Enhances the Ability to Typhoon's ground attack multiple targets simultaneously.
Boeing HAS highlighted the payload of the F-15SE, while Lockheed HAS emphasised the F-35's low observable characteristics.
"South Korea faces a Demanding security environment, Including Their asymmetric capabilities to north and Ongoing development and procurement of fifth-generation aircraft THROUGHOUT Asia-Pacific," says Lockheed.
"Because the very low observable stealth F-35 can penetrate heavily Defended airspace, it Provides proactive strategic deterrence with Korea - The ability to hold strategic targets of interest at risk 24/7, the air defense systems DESPITE That are in place to protect Those assets, "the company adds. "From an air-to-air perspective, the F-35 Provides Significantly Korea with advanced capability over Any Other fourth-generation fighter, and will be ble Ensures Korea to deter current and future threat systems."
Boeing says the F-15SE will offer a degree of stealth in the early days of a conflict through the use of conformal weapons bays. These can be removed enemy air defenses Effective Have Been suppressed, turning the F-15SE to observe what one industry calls a "bomb truck".
Payload is another critical consideration for Seoul. Its fighter pilots Refer to the early days of a war with North Korea as "the great JDAM [attached directly attack munition] party."
During this stage of a conflict, the air force need to Rapidly Eliminate Would pre-designated targets lying just to the north of the demilitarized zone That divides North and South Korea.
Stealth aussi very significant for Seoul, secrecy order from FX III preclude Competitors from Publicly detailing the radar cross section characteristics of Their aircraft.