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  • Boeing Refines Plans For Korea
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 6:41 AM on Feb 13, 2012

    Boeing is sharpening pencils for its bid in Korea's FX-III competition, after last year's defeats in India and Japan. A major rule change has opened FX-III up to new entrants, and to make things more interesting, Korea's Defense Acquisition Procurement Administration also wants bidders to include terms under which they would assist Korea in developing an indigenous KFX fighter. Responses to the request for proposals are due in mid-June and a decision should follow in late September or early October.

    The big change is the elimination of a requirement for internal weapon bays, Boeing Military Aircraft vice-president for international business development Jeff Kohler said in Singapore on Monday. That requirement would have narrowed the field to two: the Joint Strike Fighter and Boeing's Silent Eagle.

    The change frees Boeing to offer what's basically the F-15SA -- the variant for the new Saudi Arabian order -- to South Korea, without the Silent Eagle's conformal weapon bays and canted tails. "It's a good bird", says Kohler, with BAE Systems' digital electronic warfare system, fly-by-wire, dual helmet-mounted displays and other improvements. (The new FBW system will start flight tests late this year.)

    But the company stresses that the SE is still an option, and possibly the leading one given Korea Aerospace Industries' participation in developing the new bays.  

    Nonetheless, Kohler notes that last year's developments "make going forward more challenging", boosting Rafale in Brazil and encouraging Korea to match Japan in pursuing the F-35. But the timing of FX-3 -- Korea wants aircraft in-country by early 2016 -- could be a challenge for the F-35. "We'll see what rolls out in the US budget tomorrow. It could make it harder for our friends at Lockheed Martin, in terms of pricing for the next few years." That could be a bigger factor in Korea than Japan, which is taking small numbers of aircraft in its early years.

    Watch for another Boeing initiative this year: a venture into lower-cost intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems than the high-end P-8A Poseidon and its derivatives. Boeing's Network & Space Systems unit was tasked last year with looking at ISR platforms, along with BMA. "Not everyone needs anti-submarine warfare and torpedoes," Kohler says, adding that the P-8A's modular, Boeing-designed mission system can be scaled down to fit smaller platforms.

    Tags: ar99, tacair, SGA2012

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