Korea Favors F-15 Silent Eagle Fighter Over F-35, Typhoon

 - August 22, 2013, 9:59 AM
Boeing flew a development aircraft with some Silent Eagle features, such as the conformal weapons bay, in 2010. The upgraded F-15 has apparently won Korea's contest for a new fighter. (Photo: Bill Carey)

The Republic of Korea seems set to launch the F-15SE Silent Eagle, by confirming Boeing as winner of the F-X III contest for 60 more combat aircraft. The Yonhap news agency reported that the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35A have been eliminated. Boeing, Eurofighter and Lockheed Martin all said this week that they had received no official notification on the outcome of the F-X III contest. Yonhap said that “a final decision on whether to accept or reject the sole (remaining) candidate” will be made in mid-September.

In June, Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) told Yonhap that all the bids had exceeded the Won 8.3 trillion ($7.3 billion) budget. In a media briefing last Friday, a DAPA official said that it had since received lower bids for the Silent Eagle and Typhoon, implying that the F-35 had been eliminated. Two days later, according to Yonhap, DAPA announced that the Typhoon bid had been dropped “because it did not meet the program’s key demands.” The Yonhap report implied that DAPA was seeking 15 two-seat Typhoons, whereas only six could be offered within the budget ceiling.

Korea has already bought 60 F-15K Strike Eagles in two batches, after selecting the type in preference to the Dassault Rafale in 2005. Dassault declined to bid on the F-X III contest. Boeing launched the Silent Eagle in 2009, targeting Korea and other existing export customers for the Strike Eagle. Compared with the F-15K, the F-15SE has stealth features such as conformal weapons bays that can be converted to carry fuel, and surface treatments. It also has the Raytheon APG-63 (V)3 AESA radar, a digital flight control system and a new digital electronic warfare system (DEWS).

Boeing flew a development aircraft with some of these features in 2010 and was bullish about the Silent Eagle’s prospects in the Korean competition last year. According to Yonhap, Boeing dropped one of the Silent Eagle features–canted tails for reduced radar cross-section–“to meet Seoul’s tight budget and delivery schedule.”

EADS was leading the Typhoon bid, and “had submitted a very attractive and unconventional offer,” a Eurofighter spokesman told AIN. The European consortium has been emphasizing technology transfer opportunities for Korea that would assist the country’s long-term plan to develop an indigenous combat aircraft.

The offer of Lockheed Martin F-35As was made by the U.S. government as a foreign military sale (FMS). In a notification to Congress last April, the package was valued at $10.8 billion, including parts, training and logistical support. Boeing is offering the Silent Eagle as a direct commercial sale at an undisclosed price. But the aircraft’s radar, DEWS and various other avionics are being offered under FMS terms, at a cost of $2.4 billion. Boeing told AIN that it had offered “an extremely capable, low-risk and price-competitive solution that can be delivered on a schedule that meets Korean requirements, (including) a comprehensive offset program.”

If the deal is confirmed, the 60 Silent Eagles will be delivered between 2017 and 2021.

Comments

Amicus Curiae's picture

It isn't over until its over. Arms are being twisted. Threats are being made. Financial details are being adjusted. The fix is in. The F-35 is too big to fail, even in S. Korea.

Zjduke7's picture

Don't be so sure ... the problem with the F-35 is it's limited range and payload capability; F-15 far surpasses F-35 on both counts. I am willing to concede on the Radar Cross Section aspect of stealth, but how stealthy does one need to be to go against N. Korea? And don't even think about comparing cost!

Arnicus, surely you must be kidding!

praetorian's picture

@ Amicus Curiae : Pentegon reduced the etimate for long term operating cost by 20% for the F-35. Just happened on 08/22/13

http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/pentagon-cuts-f-35-operating-estimate-b...

Your right about the fix, but did anyone really think that the F-15 was going to lose this contest. I'm not saying the F-15 was better then the Typhoon,but as far as price and commonality the F-15Se was the right choice.

G650's picture

Instead of F-15SE, originally proposed with canted tails that have since been excluded and a CWB which might or might not prove to be effective and reliable once they are finally developed, RoK arguably should have pursued an Advanced Super Hornet option.

Better for austere base operations over the F-15, probably more stealthy, able to buddy-refuel in confined/uncertain future battle space and definitely cheaper to procure and maintain; the 'ASH' would arguably have been a more prudent strategic platform choice to replace RoKAF F-4 and F-5.

Joint development on the enhanced F414 engine type, weapon pod and CFT being proposed could have also enabled joint marketing rights and production made in Korea. The advanced engine could have furthermore been selected as powerplant for RoK's next-gen KF-X project.

Advanced stand-off weapon systems development and integration could probably become a greater priority and focus, over actual platform investment too.

Another Guest's picture

Amicus Curiae,

The F-35 is already a failed project of all time.

Another Guest's picture

The F-35 is already a failed project of all time Amicus Curiae.

DenaliDaniel's picture

The single engine F-35,is no longer worth the cost. Unfortunately,Lockheed Martin is in bed with Uncle Sam. This weapons system is almost too big to fail. S.Korea will get more bang for their buck,buying the Boeing Eagle. Canada should do the same.

kanadian's picture

Stealth in the F-35 is not the be-all to end-all.  It's pokey at Mach 1.6 (tested so far) compared to Mach 2+ for others (Mach 2.5 for the F-15Se). F-35 is a single engine with a potential catastrophy if it fails.  F-15Se is modified "Strike Eagle" with updated balanced stealth capabilities, improved cockpit displays and conformal external pods.  The F-15 platform has a proven track record which CANADA needs to consider and not be sidelined by flashy sparkle and tinsel.  F-35 is still in development without any firm ceiling in its final cost in the long term.  Learn from Republic of Korea who have a much more serious threat in their area and finally settled for the F-15 Silent Eagle.

icekid's picture

On paper http://www.defenceaviation.com/2009/03/f-15-silent-eagle.html F-15 Silent Eagle looks great. F-15 has a good track record. F-15SE is good upgrade, sad South Korea rejected it.

Show comments (9)