Reuters via the CS Monitor reported today that South Korea has voted down a bid from Boeing to sell the country 60 F-15 Silent Eagles in favor of starting the process again to get a better fighter.
Although the F-15 was the only plane to fit the south Korean budget initially, the ruling party’s lawmakers and former military officials have all criticized the plane’s mediocre stealth effectiveness. Specifically, the AFP noted that the F-15 was unable to evade radar like an EADS Eurofighter Typhoon or a Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok, speaking about the need for better jets, said “Our air force thinks that we need combat capabilities in response to the latest trend of aerospace technology development centered around the fifth generation fighter jets and to provocations from North Korea.”
Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter is the next jet South Korea is considering buying, although its advanced stealth capabilities were initially considered out of Seoul’s budget range. The F-35A JSF has been ordered by seven countries: Japan, Israel, Britain, Australia, Italy, Norway, and Turkey.
South Korea may take up to a year to fashion a budget that would include room for new fighters, but South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration, or DAPA (the organization responsible for assessing the fighters), said that it “will swiftly pursue the program again in order to minimize the vacuum in combat capabilities.”
In the meantime, Lockheed Martin plans to try and lower the costs of the F-35A in the wake of increased production. “We will continue to support the U.S. government in its offer of the F-35A to Korea,” a Lockheed Martin representative to South Korea said.
Boeing seems to be the loser of the deal, as the company spent out-of-pocket to develop the Silent Eagle variant of the F-15. While it’s not yet known whether Boeing will file suit, a DAPA official commented that South Korea had followed the rules regarding the bidding process.[Image via a Boeing marketing video specifically created for the F-15 Silent Eagle on YouTube]