Friday, October 21, 2011

South Korea:
The next frontier for the F-35? Provided by iPolitics Staff

The newest region of interest in the never-ending saga of the F-35 is South Korea, where, this week, interested companies all pressed a little harder to convince the Koreans that an expected fleet of about 60 fighters (and approximately $7 billion) ought to consist of their planes.

The companies in question are Boeing, Lockheed Martin and the Eurofighter consortium. The latter offered South Korea a technology transfer this week in the hopes that sweetening the deal a bit more might push the Koreans to grab the Typhoon fighter.

From The Korea Times:

Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain are partners in the development and production of the Typhoon, with their consortium of Cassidian, a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), in charge. Cassidian officials told a group of visiting South Korean journalists, first in Munich and later in Madrid, that their company is committed to transfer their technology to South Korea, if Typhoon beats out its rivals in October next year.


“We’re willing to support Korea to achieve self-reliance,” [senior vice president of Cassidian Peter] Maute, said. “One of our strong efforts (in the bid) is that we’re willing to offer to Korea to participate in technology not just in the Eurofighter program but also for use in indigenous development.

But the Americans aren’t far behind, of course.

Boeing is trying to sell its upgraded, slightly stealthier F-15SE Silent Eagle. Courtesy of Flightglobal, we have a clip of the video the company is using to convince the South Koreans it’s just the thing to take on North Korea, should the opportunity arise.

Lockheed is also pushing for Korea to pick up a batch of F-35s, and as the domestic budgetary crunch settles in (though, if any of the GOP apart from Ron Paul candidates have anything to do with it, those military budgets cuts will be a thing of the past), it continues to look further afield to shore up some needed sales numbers to keep its economies of scale manageable.

It probably doesn’t help that the Australians are still quite publicly mulling their proposed F-35 purchase. This week, Australian defence minister Stephen Smith told Dow Jones News that he remains concerned about the F-35’s schedule, and admitted that, in the next year, he would do what’s necessary to avoid a capability gap.

And from, we get a bit of context on all this activity in the East:

Australian taxpayers are bankrolling the nation’s biggest military expansion since World War II as Washington’s grip on security in the Asian-Pacific region is increasingly challenged by China’s growing military sophistication and influence. In a bid to protect the vast borders of this isolated continent, Canberra plans to spend as much as 275 billion Australian dollars (US$278.3 billion) over the next 20 years on updating its military with equipment including submarines, naval frigates and ships called air warfare destroyers, as well as a fleet of F-35 aircraft.

Therein lies perhaps one of the reasons the Canadian government is not being too noisy over its own F-35 costs. As much as there have been those false flags about the Russians up North, no doubt the Conservatives share Washington’s worry about the rise of the Chinese military state a lot more. Given that, there’s little chance they’ll do anything but continue to put up a united front on the F-35 going forward, no matter how bleak the whole thing looks.

© 2011 iPolitics Inc.

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