Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Korea Rejects the Silent Eagle

Image 1: F-15K

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has decided to restart the F-X III competition rather than accepting Boeing's F-15SE proposal. The decision of the DAPA to restart the F-X III program is likely the result of both the heavy lobbying efforts made by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) leadership and by the less than satisfactory outcome of the competition overall. Essentially the F-15SE would have won by default had the process not been restarted as the Lockheed bid was over the $7.4 billion dollar limit and the EADS bid was faulted by the DAPA on technical unilateral contract changes.

If I may be frank for a moment, from the onset it was clear that the ROKAF was set on acquiring the F-35. Although the ROKAF and DAPA would certainly not admit to it, the addition of the Eurofighter and the F-15SE was only intended to serve as a means of lowering the F-35's price by increasing the competitiveness of the bid. This is not an uncommon tactic employed by governments in multi-billion dollar aircraft negotiations. Even the United States Government has used this tactic to its advantage, it was clear in the KC-X tanker program that the Airbus proposal would not be able to overcome Boeing's bid, nor was its admission into the program intended to. This technique can be effective but is often prone to backfire, especially when the procurement program is poorly managed.

The decision by the DAPA to restart the F-X III is attributable to the DAPA's own incompetence rather than the fault of any of the aerospace firms involved in the competition. The failure of the DAPA to succeed on its first attempt will leave it with few desirable options. Its certainly possible that both Boeing and EADS will protest the decision of the DAPA and not enter subsequent bids now that there is little doubt that the F-35 is the preferred option. This would leave a uncompetitive environment that would greatly benefit Lockheed Martin. Given the requests of the DAPA to raise the program's budget past $7.4 billion have failed, the most plausible alternative would be to purchase fewer aircraft. The delay will allow the South Korean Government to capitalize on the steady F-35 production cost reductions but even with these reductions, it is unlikely South Korea will be able to acquire the originally proposed 60 F-35's within the $7.4 billion dollar budget in the intimidate future.

To clarify, the F-35 is certainly the superior choice over the F-15SE given South Korea's unique security needs. The F-15SE would be able to sufficiently counter North Korean threats but its utility against China is much more limited. Furthermore, the F-35 will be heavily upgraded over the next two to three decades by virtue of its role in the USAF, USN, and USMC regardless of any foreign purchases. The F-15SE airframe is not guaranteed to receive the same level of capability/system growth via upgrades as the F-35 over the same period.




  1. I'm not at all surprised by this development. The amount of indignation South Korea's decision has kicked up across the internet is truly enjoyable to read. The conspiracy theories being tossed about are equally entertaining.

    1. The F-35 is the right plane for South Korea but the DAPA has nobody to blame but themselves for the mess they've gotten themselves into. Boeing is royally pissed and frankly for good reason, they did follow all the rules and were the only ones to meet the current DAPA requirements. Its a shame, unlike some of my peers, I believe the F-15SE does have potential at least in some aspects. The US will continue to fly F-15E's for another 20 to 25 years based upon the proposed structural upgrades so at least some of the F-15SE upgrades would be worth acquiring over the long term. Of course, with the sequester its highly unlikely to happen.

    2. Silent Eagle's best hope, in my opinion at least, rests with Saudi Arabia. Singapore has expressed zero interest. Israel and Japan have jumped onto the F-35 train. Among the current operators of the F-15, SA offers the best chance of a production deal. Even then, I don't see chances of a Saudi purchase of the SE likely.

  2. F35 will be bought by the SK, once NK decide to spit their dummy again. F35 is not for NK it's for china and japan.

    A F35 can go and land on top of Kim head and he still be looking for it.

    I will put a third option on the table,
    SK goes to Boeing and get them to build Jointly a F23 copy,
    Boeing dose the design (which the Have) SK makes them,
    Boeing Supply's the Tech and jointly develops them with SK and get
    GE to makes 5th generation engine with horizontal outlets.

    How hard would that be.

    But would SK be willing to spend the money and R$D to do that type of project.

    Either they Spend $10 billion on F35s
    $30-50 billion building their own Fx project.

    1. Even if both Boeing offered and South Korea wanted the F-23, I'm confident the US Government would block such a purchase on similar grounds as the Raptor export ban currently in place. If the Cold War is any indication, being highly restrictive when it comes to exporting the best defense technology (even among "trustworthy allies") is a prudent measure. The potential costs simply outweigh the benefits for the US. The F-X project does not seem viable but they have a better chance than many other 5th generation fighter programs out there (e.g. Turkey's 5th generation program will almost assuredly not materialize into anything). I think they will end up either delaying the purchase of F-35's or moving forward at a lower fleet number.

    2. LOL. Methinks you do not understand US property rights and patent law.
      Northrop Grumman might have something to say about copying the F-23. Especially since they've since updated the top level design for an F/A-23 proposal that successfully torpedoed the F/A-22 concept Boeing was pushing in the late 90s, early 00's.

    3. Fair call, think the F35 will be for SK then.

      Also Turkey buying HQ-9 big discussion been going on about this.

      Her my 2 cents on it.

      Going with USA and EU base system would of been expensive, and the information transfer for Rocket and other technology would be more complicated if they where even allowed that advance tech.

      The Russian technology S300 would have similar Issue in regards to Transfer Technology and also the price tag, with sources saying Russia is looking to sell the S400 around the $800+ million mark for a complete set and the S300's version around the $110-120 million per unit(with out missiles), + $1 million per missile with no technology transfer.

      The Syria (for example)
      The Syria system was four S-300 batteries and 144 missiles and has a price tag of $900 million, (One S-300 missile system is estimated by experts to cost some $115 million, plus $1 million or so per missile.)

      Turkey might have done the right deal,
      Buy the 12- HQ-9 and get EU base company to develop it with newer seeker, better search and track radar, more efficient rocket engines, newer computers.

      For $3 billion it's a bargain IMO, the chines will be selling Full Technology Transfer and Turkey will have that as a base to start with. Also the HQ-9 has a mix technology from US and Israeli Technology

      At $3 billion that works out to be roughly $330m per battalion with full Technology transfer, which is much cheaper than a S400 at $800+ million per battalion with no technology transfer. The S300 pv is much more expensive than the one Syria sale, which turkey was looking at. Also Russia has stop the S300 production due to the S400 and very poor sales of the S300.

      If Turkey was going to Advance Technology, they would be Buying USA or EU air deference, but turkey wants to have it's own air defense industry within 10-15 yrs which it will get IMO.

      Question is Will Russia now still sell S400 to China?

      I think Yes,
      At $800per unit it's out reach for most country capability and Russia needs to sell quite a few to get some $$$ back.
      China is looking to buy 12-14 unites and replace their current S300. Only china has the money to buy the S400 and maintain them.

      Your thoughts on it Matt and anyone else.

      Turkey would not be buying the china HQ-9 if it hasn't already had discussion with EU arms companies of improving the Technology.

      For EU company, this can be worth Billion in contracts and long deals that go on for 10-15 years with Turkey

      Turkey could have it's own Air Defense System within 15 years from scratch and saved Billions in R&D.

      What's in it for China,
      1. would be the propaganda of selling such advance equipment.
      2. china could learn from Turkey industry in the Future.

      The only country's that fellow the embargo on china are the USA and Some EU country's

      Most Middle eastern country's sell technology to china and even some Asian countries do deals with china as well.

      Dam, did it again, suppose to be short.!!! :0

    4. If think it was extremely shortsighted for Turkey to purchase the HQ-9 system. Firstly, the HQ-9 is totally incompatible with Turkey's existing NATO early warning radars and C2 assets. Major modifications would have to be made to ensure compatibility and American diplomats have made clear that the rest of NATO would not allow it.

      “Turkey can always decide to build a stand-alone system. But in that case, abstracting the air defense system from NATO assets would mean that Turkey will lose half of its radar capabilities”

      Secondly, major arms deals are more than just monetary transactions, they have broad political impacts. One of the reasons why the Gripen is not selling as well as it should, many agree its a "good" aircraft, is a national security partnership with Sweeden doesn't have as many benefits as one with Russia, France or the United States. This leads me to my third point, Turkey is in the process of attaining the F-35. Over the last few years, PM Erdogan has been less than accommodating to US interests on several issues: Israel, the Arab Spring, and NATO commitment. I think a serious re-evaluation is needed between Turkey-US relations pending this arms purchase. The last thing the US needs is for China to get a hold of Turkish radar data (from Chinese supplied radars) looking at F-35's since Turkey will be operating both.

      Also, technology transfer really isn't much here. The HQ-9 is outdated when compared to the more modern variants of the S-300 and Patriot systems. I'd say Russia will sell the S-400 to China, Putin loves to try and irk the US every chance he gets :)

  3. I have heard good things about the Gripen, i think Brazil might be looking at it as well. But the issue are that they have not got the budget that the USA, EU and Russia have.

    Will be interesting to see what Turkey dose and the consequence for them.
    I guarantee that, their is no way in hell the Chines system will be allowed to join the Nato Network.

    You have to look at Turkey point of view.

    -The Israel Turkey relationship is not good. So any minor conflict with Turkey will expose it to Nato Black out.
    -On their boarder they have
    Syria (Hostile)
    Iraq (at best some knife edge)
    Iran (Which can turn very Hostile very quick)
    Russia (friendly depending on the stations, weather the USA uses Turkey/USA bases as lunching pad)

    One would think the USA patriot system would be first and only choice, so why china.

    Other than what has been discussed already is Israel.

    Discussion that I have been having and regarding this Purchase can be a direct responses to Israel. If a conflict occurred in the region against Israel how will Turkey protect it self with a pro Israel from a USA.

    When doing looking at the Purchase don't think Short term, think Long term, what will the region might be in 10-15 years.
    What Aircraft will you be going up against?
    What Missile System will you be going up against?
    How much information will their be about Turkey Air Defensive System known by Nato?
    Do you want you country to be completely Exposed to Nato?
    Is Nato suiting my country Interest?
    Where the Deals on offer a ripe off in Price?
    How much control will i have over the USA system VS the chines System?
    and so on

    It will be interesting to see where this goes and what Geo political consequences are created.

    1. I think this is part of a larger foreign policy adopted by PM Erdogan to distance himself and Turkey from the West. Its foolhardy move that does not benefit Turkey from a national security perspective. I wouldn't mind if they had chosen the European Terrain Aster 30 system either but its important for NATO allies to have interoperability. You would think Turkey would be more included to acquire the Patriot considering its what NATO troops are currently defending the country with.

      Here's another good article from Defense News that came out today:

      Of course NATO is going by the wayside anyway, the US is gradually withdrawing its commitment to NATO. Without the continued support of the US, NATO will effectively be inapplicable of major sustained power projection operations with the exception of France and the UK.