Competition Reopened For Korea’s F-X Phase 3

By Bradley Perrett, Amy Butler
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
September 30, 2013
Credit: Lockheed Martin

South Korea has injected uncertainty into an already chaotic combat aircraft market by reversing its own procurement authority's choice of the Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle for its 60-aircraft F-X Phase 3 project. The government says it preferred a “fifth-generation” fighter: the Lockheed Martin F-35, which the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) had rejected because it was too expensive (AW&ST Aug. 26, p. 18). Seoul still plans to select a new fighter within a year, for initial operational capability in 2017.

The flip-flop is good news for the F-35 program, which needs international orders to support its planned production ramp-up, and is bad news for Boeing's ambition to sustain F-15 production. But there may be a real competition ahead, since Eurofighter sees a new contest as a second chance for Typhoon, which DAPA had disqualified from F-X3. Moreover, the rejection of DAPA's decision raises questions about the agency's independence and authority, and hence, the integrity of South Korea's procurement process.

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