Nuclear Strategy May Have Influenced F-35 Switch

By Bill Sweetman
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
December 02, 2013

New strategic accords between the U.S. and South Korea, focusing on plans to destroy North Korean nuclear missiles on the ground before they can be fired, may have influenced South Korea's decision to abandon the F-15 for the F-35.

South Korea's military planning emphasizes the development of a “kill chain” capable of destroying both fixed, hardened targets and mobile weapons such as transporter-erector-launchers for ballistic missiles. This responds to the increasing use of such missiles by the North, including an eight-axle TEL—apparently of Chinese design—unveiled in 2012.

The kill chain incorporates overhead reconnaissance, by satellites and manned and unmanned aircraft, and precision weapons. One major new program is the Hyunmoo-3 cruise missile—developed in land-, ship- and submarine-launched versions by Korea's Agency for Defense Development and unveiled early this year— possibly with the aid of the German/Swedish Taurus Systems company, according to industry sources. Korea has announced its intention of acquiring the Taurus KEPD 350 missile to arm its F-15s.

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