Flick through the pages of this week’s Flight International and you’d be mistaken for thinking that there’s still a fighter competition to be pursued in South Korea.
Seoul’s recent decision to not award an F-X III deal to apparent front-runner Boeing for the F-15 Silent Eagle has been viewed by many as indicating a future slam-dunk for Lockheed Martin with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Maybe we shouldn’t read too much into there being no advert in our magazine from the crestfallen manufacturer, but there is one from Eurofighter, which is still pitching its Typhoon for a potential first win in Asia.
My colleague Greg Waldron – who will be in South Korea next week to cover what could be a bit of a weird Seoul air show, has written a great scene-setter piece explaining the politics of the F-X III process, which apparently sought competition to the F-35 a bit too successfully for the air force’s liking. Unfortunately for Boeing (company-sourced image below), this prompted an astonishing anti-Silent Eagle campaign by a bunch of former senior officers.
You can read Greg’s article for free by logging in or registering to use our FG Club, where you’ll also find programme updates on Korea Aerospace Industries’ T-50 trainer/light-attack aircraft and Surion utility helicopter.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens with a revived F-X III process, but as Seoul’s selections of BAE Systems and AESA radar supplier Raytheon to upgrade its F-16s highlight, it’s not always the easiest customer to read.