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Korea drops key stealth requirements
The Korea Times ^ | 01-12-2012 | Lee Tae-hoon

Posted on 01/12/2012 5:25:30 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki

Korea drops key stealth requirements

By Lee Tae-hoon

Seoul has decided to remove two key compulsory requirements initially set for 60 advanced fighter jets that it plans to purchase in an attempt to allow more companies to enter the competition for the nation’s largest-ever arms deal.

“Korea cannot defend the national interest without competition,” said Noh Dae-lae, the commissioner of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) in a meeting with defense reporters Thursday.

He stressed that the military will ease the required operational capabilities (ROC) of the FX-III project to secure a bigger “buying power” and a greater leverage in negotiations by promoting competition.

Kim Dae-sik, the head of DAPA’s contract management agency, confirmed that Seoul will release a request for proposal (RFP) for the purchase of 60 high-end foreign jets without the early prerequisite of a conformal weapons bay.

The conformal weapons bay, which allows aircraft to carry weapons internally, is a common characteristic of the fifth generation stealth aircraft. It greatly reduces the radar cross section (RCS) of the plane, making it appear much smaller than it is on enemy radar, often to a size of a bird.

“DAPA plans to issue the RFP by the end of the month without the requirement of the conformal weapons bay,” Kim said.

Of three aircraft manufacturers that publicly expressed intent to enter the FX-III bid, only the Eurofighter Typhoon built by the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) lacks the internal weapons bay.

Lockheed Martin has successfully completed the development of a conformal bay for the F-35 Lightning II that it wants to sell to Korea, whereas Boeing is developing one for its F-15 Silent Eagle, a proposed upgrade of the F-15.

Oh Tae-shik, head of DAPA’s program management agency, confirmed that any major players in the market will be able to enter the FX-race without having to fulfill a specific RCS value previously set by the Air Force.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is the only aircraft that met the military’s RCS requirement.

“Non-stealth fighters will be able to enter the bid as we will lift the two early requirements,” he said. “However, DAPA will evaluate stealth capability as one of the key aspects, giving an advantage to an aircraft with a lower observability.”

Korea has set aside 8.3 trillion won ($7.3 billion) for the acquisition of 60 fighters to replace the Air Force’s F-4 and F-5 aircraft, 1.9 trillion won for 36 attack helicopters and 485 billion won for four high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles.

A source said the Air Force has launched a 50-member task force to help guarantee thorough testing, evaluation and negotiations for the three major foreign acquisition projects.

Seoul plans to receive proposals from possible bidders for the FX-III project and the helicopter project until June next year and announce the winners in September or October this year.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: aerospace; boeing; lockheedmartin; southkorea

1 posted on 01/12/2012 5:25:37 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
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To: sukhoi-30mki

“for the acquisition of 60 fighters to replace the Air Force’s F-4 and F-5 aircraft”

Wow, I didn’t realize the South Koreans were using those particular fighters. Good designs, but awfully long in the tooth. I’d think even a late-model F-16 would represent a significant upgrade in capabilities here, esp over the F-5.

BTW, on a somewhat related note: I’m probably alone in this, but to me the F-4 Phantom is one of the sexiest looking fighters ever built.

2 posted on 01/12/2012 5:35:14 AM PST by DemforBush (May I have 10,000 marbles, please?)
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To: DemforBush

Why does it cost us 1 billion a plane, but the Koreans are getting 60 for 7.3 billion?

Anyway, if the Koreans want to buy other planes from other countries, maybe those countries can send soldiers there.

3 posted on 01/12/2012 6:17:31 AM PST by EQAndyBuzz (Most Conservative in the Primary, the Republican Nominee in the General.)
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To: EQAndyBuzz
Why does it cost us 1 billion a plane, but the Koreans are getting 60 for 7.3 billion?

Fighters don't cost 1 billion. 7.3 billion / 60 = a little over $121 million each. Sounds reasonable to me.

4 posted on 01/12/2012 6:25:24 AM PST by 6ppc (It's torch and pitchfork time)
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To: sukhoi-30mki
Not a bad decision. The dropping of the RCS and conformal weapons bay aspects means that the costs of the planes will be far lower. Take the weapons bay for instance the adage goes, empty space is expensive.

Same for RCS. The radar cross-section of the S.Korean plane would probably not be that low, and with improvements in modern radar technology even an RCS of 0.1m2 is not enough and can still be detected and tracked by modern PESAs and AESAs at useful ranges (considering that a F15 has a RCS of 25m2, a Typhoon around 0.5m2, the F-35 0.01m2, and the F-22 0.001m2). Thus spending a lot of money to get to a RCS of, say, 0.1m2 (or slightly less) wouldn't really mean much against, say, the Chinese, and against a good IADS it even gets worse.

And anyways, cruise missiles can do the job much better.

Overall a good decision by the South Koreans.

5 posted on 01/12/2012 6:29:40 AM PST by spetznaz (Nuclear-tipped Ballistic Missiles: The Ultimate Phallic Symbol)
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6 posted on 01/12/2012 6:58:43 AM PST by TheOldLady (FReepmail me to get ON or OFF the ZOT LIGHTNING ping list)
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To: spetznaz

I think you are referring to their indigenous KFX programme while this article is talking about their plan to buy 60 fighters (F-15SE/F-35/Typhoon) off the shelf. The KFX is expected to leverage off technology from their deal.

While cost would have been a factor, I think the need to aggressively pursue technology transfer was one of the main reasons for dropping the stealth requirements. The cost/timeline concerns over the F-35 would have also come into play.

7 posted on 01/12/2012 11:28:57 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
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To: sukhoi-30mki

Oh. Thanks for explaining that. I had totally missed it.

8 posted on 01/13/2012 1:14:18 AM PST by spetznaz (Nuclear-tipped Ballistic Missiles: The Ultimate Phallic Symbol)
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