South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announce that there will be no competition for F-X Phase III.
26th Nov 2013
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announce that there will be no competition for F-X Phase III. They’ve set the stealth requirements so that only the F-35 can meet them, and DAPA plans to sign a 2014 contract for 40 F-35A block 3 jets, to be delivered from 2018 – 2022. That’s a drop from the original requirement for 60 planes, though the ROK JCS will consider a later buy of another 20 jets, type unspecified, for deployment in 2023 – 2024. JCS spokesman Eom Hyo-sik:
“The F-35A will be used as a strategic weapon to gain a competitive edge and defeat the enemy in the early stage of war…. The South Korean military will also use the aircraft to effectively deal with provocations.”
He’s referring to the ROK’s counterstrike doctrine, which intends to actively seek out artillery and missile launchers in early stages of a full war, and strike heavily-defended North Korean targets in response to lesser armed provocations. DAPA’s immediate challenge will be setting a budget for its purchase. Senior DAPA official Oh Tae-shik says that “We expect to firm up the total budget size after discussions with the related ministry.” The ROKAF’s intermediate-term challenge is the fact that American GAO auditors don’t have a lot of confidence in the 2018 deadline for Block 3 jets, given how far behind the fighter’s software development has fallen.
As a side effect, the JCS has moved proposed development of the local KF-X fighter as an intermediate-term project for development by 2020, rather than a long-term project. Lockheed Martin is expected to lend its expertise to KAI, as part of an F-35 industrial offsets program that will also include a new military communications satellite and a cyber-warfare training center. ROK’s Yonhap, “(LEAD) S. Korea decides to buy 40 Lockheed F-35s from 2018″ | E&T, “South Korea confirms F-35 fighter jet deal” | China’s Xinhua, “S. Korea picks Lockheed Martin’s F-35 as main fighter jet”.