Skip to comments.Americans favored in fight to replace Korea’s F-4s
Posted on 08/01/2011 11:17:55 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
Americans favored in fight to replace Koreas F-4s
By Greg Waldron
South Korea faces a threat to its existence - in the shape of its neighbour, North Korea.
Though its air force is obsolete, Pyongyang would enter a conflict with the ability to inflict immense damage in a short time.
It has made little secret of its efforts to develop nuclear weapons and the missiles to carry them, and it has over 1,000 artillery pieces within firing range of South Korea's capital, Seoul - with many in hardened bunkers.
There is also China to consider, which has long served as North Korea's superpower backer.
In a war, neutralizing these manifold threats would fall mainly on the shoulders of the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), though it could rely on help from the US.
The ROKAF needs to replace more than 60 McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms
Though the ROKAF has a strong force of Boeing F-15K and Lockheed Martin KF-16 fighters, it needs to replace more than 60 McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms.
In late July, Seoul's Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) shortlisted four possible replacements to meet its FX-III upgrade programme requirements: Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle, Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II, the Eurofighter Typhoon and Sukhoi's developmental PAK-FA.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin have said that they both expect a formal request for proposal (RFP) for 60 aircraft in early 2012, with deliveries to start in 2016.
"Korea is still looking at its requirements, funding profile and potential acquisition strategy," said one executive involved in the campaign.
Boeing enters FX-III in a strong position. Its twin-seat F-15K, a variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle, emerged victorious in both FX-I, for 40 aircraft and FX-II, for 21 aircraft.
Deliveries of the second batch are likely to be completed in the second quarter of 2012.
Though final assembly of the F-15K takes place in St Louis, the aircraft's wings, forward fuselage, wire harnesses and heads-up-displays are produced in South Korea.
"The F-15SE offers Korea the flexibility to field an aircraft with both reduced radar cross-section capability and a heavy combat payload," said Howard Berry, Boeing's FX-III campaign manager. "We do this by offering the conformal weapons bay (CWB) for selected mission profiles, and the ability to convert into a heavier configuration for a variety of missions."
Eying FX-III, Boeing announced in November 2010 that Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) would design, develop and manufacture the Silent Eagle's CWB.
Berry said the CWB can be removed within three hours.
"We are the only competitor optimised for maximum capability for different mission requirements, as opposed to being specifically tailored to one type of mission, with shortcomings in others."
Lockheed's position is also compelling. It worked with Korea to produce the KF-16 in-country, and played a pivotal role in the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainer programme.
In the context of FX-III, it makes much of the F-35's stealth characteristics.
Lockheed said an F-35 buy would allow for excellent interoperability with US forces, and it would allow Korea to enjoy the economies of scale inherent in the large production runs anticipated for the F-35 - although cuts to western defence budgets could dent this argument, not to mention further delays in the aircraft's development programme.
Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow with Singapore's S Rajaratnam School of International Studies' military transformations programme, said FX-III is really a competition between the two American aircraft, with the Typhoon a long shot and the PAK-FA a mere "spoiler".
He pointed out that the Eurofighter was one of the aircraft eliminated in the FX-II competition.
As for the PAK-FA, he said: "The PAK-FA is only there to light a fire under the western manufacturers and sweeten the pot for technology transfer. It is a virtually untested aircraft."
The greatest obstacle for the Typhoon and PAK-FA, however, will be the depth of the US and South Korean defence relationship.
Thousands of American serviceman are based in South Korea, and the US would all but certainly be drawn into any conflict on the peninsula.
Washington will drive this fact home in the interests of producing an American winner for FX-III.
That being said...I always thought she was a beautiful aircraft!
Wow, a first-world air force flying a combat platform drawn in 1959. Of course they would be facing an opposition flying aircraft from earlier than that.
I had heard that “brick” was also an apt description of its glide ratio. But what power! I once experienced an F-4 coming in from behind me at about 100ft AGL. It made quite an impression. I didn’t hear it until I felt it.
The Koreans should buy the updated F-15.
“Wow, a first-world air force flying a combat platform drawn in 1959”
Not to be too picky, but your dates are off.
“On 25 July 1955, the Navy ordered two XF4H-1 test aircraft and five YF4H-1 pre-production fighters. The Phantom made its maiden flight on 27 May 1958 with Robert C. Little at the controls”
I was Lucky enough to get 500 hours of flight time in F-4D’s. I still remember my first flight and my last flight vividly. What a grand machine...
I was 7 or 8 when Blue Angels and Thunderbirds both flew the F-4’s and saw both groups in one summer - I’ll never forget the noise...and the ground shaking...
Off the top of my chrome dome, before consulting Google, I can think of two: Germany and Japan.
Google says to add Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Iran.
They need to use elements of the F-22 in any new version of the F-15. Make it the F-15X
Even more beautiful when responding to your calls for air support.
Same here. We had them on my ship the Saratoga. They just looked menacing and deadly, even standing still. The F/A-18 Super Hornets they use now are too pretty.
Looks like they leaned the vertical stabs out a bit. One less differentiator between it and the F14. Beside the fact that the tomcats are gone...
50,000 American dead - and they can't buy a wiring harness from us.
Beware Asian merchantilists.
I always thought the engines had a deep, whirring kind of sound underneath the air-tearing growl that I always loved.
Of course, an F-18, F-16 or F-15 sounds pretty menacing too, but a little different.
From what I understand, the HOG will make you excited enough to nearly pee your pants if you need one badly and it shows up with a whole lot of ordnance.
I miss the smell of JP4 in the morning (seriously):
(OK its dusk in the video).
One morning we launched 60 F4Es in 12 minutes from Osan AB - I wish I had video!
I wish I had the audio!
We’re still flying B-52s, you know.
And I know what you mean about the smell of JP4. I work a block away from where new 737s run through engine test - and once in a while I catch that JP smell drifting over and I take it in, and it reminds me of my flight deck days from years ago. I grew to like that smell.
Just before the RF-4 was retired at the Nevada National Guard Base, Reno, Nevada.
Brings a shiver to the spine and a tear to the eye