Long-range photography tender to be released next year, targeting requirement to follow

South Korea is to release a tender in first quarter 2004 for reconnaissance pods to equip 20 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters. The competition is expected to be baselined on a high-end, long-range oblique photography (LOROP) capability. Options such as tactical synthetic-aperture radar are also being examined.

 The 20 F-16s will take over the South Korean air force's tactical reconnaissance role, currently filled by McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II fighters, from 2007.

A separate competition to supply the air force with new F-16 targeting pods is expected to go to tender after 2006.

The reconnaissance pod project is working towards a source selection by first quarter 2005 with systems to be delivered and operational 18-24 months later. The project calls for supply of airborne pods, sensor systems, datalinks, a single fixed ground-based imagery processing and analysis centre, and a similar mobile centre.

Confirmed contenders include BAE Systems, Elbit El-Op, Goodrich, Lockheed Martin, Recon Optical, Terma and Thales.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is exploring possible teaming arrangements with El-Op and Terma in the lead-up to the tender release, with Terma exhibiting as part of the KAI display at the Korea Air Show.

Terma officials say the company is at an advanced stage of increasing the internal capacity of its Modular Reconnaissance Pod to accommodate LOROP payloads. The new variant will be designated MRP II and will include a three-pane centre section window.

BAE Systems is offering the Advanced Airborne Reconnaissance System and is self-funding clearance of the pod aboard US Air Force F-16s at Eglin AFB in Florida.

Source: Flight International