Tag Archives: ROKAF

Headaches for Korean KF-X program

The South Korean KF-X program is in trouble because of a US ‘no’ over technology transfer concering several key elements of the design. The US move is a surprise for the Koreans after their ‘yes’ to the purchase of forty Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II aircraf last year. Seoul has started a probe into the proceeding.

South Korea is willing to spend close to 15 billion USD on the indigenous KF-X fighter jet, a program that should result in a fighter aircraft that should serve alongside the F-35s ordered and F-15Ks already in service. A total of 120 aircraft is said to be on the cards for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).

With Washington’s refusal to hand over key technologies, it seems the program suffers a severe setback at an early stage. The goal was to have the KF-X ready to fly in 2025.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Artist’s impression of the KF-X design.  (Image © Ministry of Defence, South Korea))

Korea KF-16 upgrade awarded anyway, offset not fixed yet

The Republic of Korea Air Force huge KF-16 upgrade deal is back on track. After having a quarrel with BAe Systems, the upgrade now landed – as expected – with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

The Republic of Korea Air Force next generation KF-X fighter jet might look somewhat like this, but possibly with only one engine (Image © Ministry of Defence, South Korea)
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Green light for new KF-X fighter

The US Congress has already been informed by the US State Department of this new proposed Foreign Military Sale that will make 134 KF-16C/Ds better than ever before. The modifications include a new Modular Mission Computer, Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars (AESA), an AN/APX-125 or equivalent Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) System, an Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems, Upgraded Radar Warning Receivers (RWR) and AN/ALQ-213 EW Management Units.

Moreover the RoKAF is getting 3 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) II Group C Helmets, five GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), some weapon practice equipment, guidance units, spare parts, training and some other stuff for 2.5 billion dollar.

Work will primarily be done by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, and Northrop Grumman Corporation in Falls Church, Virginia. Negotiations are not entirely over, however, as Seoul is asking for US orders for its industry (offsets) in return.

The Republic of South Korea cancelled an 1.7 billion USD upgrade program for 134 F-16 fighter jets with BAE Systems on Thursday 6 November 2014. The party’s were not able to come to terms then. The new deal is worth 700 million dollars more.

Source: US DSCA
Featured image: As many as 134 RoKAF KF-16s are selected for upgrades (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Soaring over South Korea

The South Korean airbase of Cheongju for the next two weeks is the stage of a large Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) biannual exercise called Soaring Eagle. Taking part is the old and the ROKAF stuff, from nearly obsolete F-4E Phantoms to new indigenous Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 Golden Hawks.

In the ROKAF’s words, the aim of the large-scale aerial exercise aims is to boost capabilities of blocking enemies’ surprise infiltration and destroying key military assets – in other words, to block any effort of South Korea’s northern neighbour. The air force also wants to evaluate and improve the strategic and light attack combat capabilities of the FA-50. Two Golden Hawks take part in the exercise.

The participants of Soaring Eagle. (Image © ROKAF)
The participants of Soaring Eagle, with two FA-50s in the front. (Image © ROKAF)

Cheongju
Cheongju, visited by Airheadsfly.com editors in 2004, is located about 140 kilometers south of Seoul. The airbase is home to South Korea’s remaining F-4E Phantoms, and also provides ’Top Gun’ training for fighter pilots.

Next to FA-50s and F-4Es, also taking part in Soaring Eagle are F-5E, F-15K and KF-16 fighters. In total, forty aircraft are involved, as well as 320 personnel.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

At first sight this could be Switzerland , but those are South Korean rocks. and that's a South Korean Air Force F-5E Tiger in front of those rocks. Place to be: Wonju airbase, central South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
At first sight this could be Switzerland , but those are South Korean rocks and that’s a South Korean Air Force F-5E Tiger in front of those rocks. Place to be: Wonju airbase, central South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The days of this South Korean F-4E Phantom are numbered: the F-35A will take its place. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The days of this South Korean F-4E Phantom are numbered: the F-35A will take its place. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
As many as 134 RoKAF KF-16s are selected for a radar and avionics upgrade (Image © Elmer van Hest)
One of many dozens of RoKAF KF-16s. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

No Korean tanker decision this year

The decision on which manufacturer may deliver four in-flight refuelling aircraft to the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) will not be taken this year, according to South Korean media including The Korea Herald.

While negotiations have been going on ever since March, there is yet no final deal in sight on the detailed price arrangements since none of the three bidders seems to meet industrial compensation that Korea wants. Those so-called offset agreements might mean work for Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) or other partners, or sharing of (some) technology with more business in mind.

Almost a dozen A330 MRTTs – flown by AirTanker as the Voyager – are already providing in-flight refuelling to the Royal Air Force (Image © AirTanker)
Featured image: Almost a dozen A330 MRTTs – flown by AirTanker as the Voyager – are already providing in-flight refuelling to the Royal Air Force
(Image © AirTanker)
The three competitors for the quartet of RoKAF tankers are the Airbus A330 MRTT (called KC-30A by the Royal Australian Air Force and Voyager by the RAF), the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus and the Israel Aircraft Industries which offers refurbished second hand aircraft. If Seoul chooses either Boeing or IAI the Koreans will get a tanker based on the 767 airliner.

Leaving politics out and focusing only on the technical and operational side of things Airbus in theory has the best cards on the table, with the A330 MRTT already in the air with the Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, the United Arab Emirates Air Force, the Royal Saudi Air Force and ordered by the air forces of Singapore, Qatar, France and wanted by India and Spain as well.

The Boeing KC-46A is still in the construction phase with loads of possible problems during the development still ahead. However, with the US armed forces co-operating closely with the South Korean defence, the politics might be critical in the decision. The US Air Force said earlier this November it “still expects Boeing to meet the August 2017 target for delivering 18 new KC-46As” out of an expected total purchase plan of 179 aircraft. When these statements are made most of the time it means delays in the program with the buyer adding pressure to the seller, while seeming confident that everything will be okay.

The IAI solution will be the most economical one, as the second hand 767 solution of the Israelis will be about half the price of a new aircraft. Time will tell which business the South Korean leadership has in mind.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

Spanish Air Force EF-18 Hornet fighters have been flying with A330 MRTTs before, here they are being refueled during a test flight of a Royal Australian Air Force A330 MRTT (KC-30A) (Image © Airbus Military)
Testing being done with by a Royal Australian Air Force A330 MRTT (KC-30A) and Spanish Air Force EF-18 Hornets. (Image © Airbus Military)
Artist impression of a KC-46 conducting an in-flight refueling on a B-2 bomber . The first KC-46 is expected to fly in 2015. (Image © USAF)
Artist impression of a KC-46 conducting an in-flight refueling on a B-2 bomber . The first KC-46 is expected to fly in 2015. (Image © USAF)
Test flight with the new Boeing 767-300ER MMTT tanker/cargo aircraft converted by IAI (Image © Israeli Aerospace Industries)
Test flight with the new Boeing 767-300ER MMTT tanker/cargo aircraft converted by IAI (Image © Israeli Aerospace Industries)

South Korea cancels BAE Systems F-16 upgrade

As many as 134 RoKAF KF-16s are selected for a radar and avionics upgrade (Image © Elmer van Hest)
As many as 134 RoKAF KF-16s are selected for a radar and avionics upgrade (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The Republic of South Korea has cancelled an 1.7 billion USD upgrade program for 134 F-16 fighter jets with BAE Systems, it was reported on Thursday 6 November 2014. It was the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency that announced the cancellation.

The deal with BAE Systems was already in peril for quite some time, with US authorities warning that the program could go severely over budget, perhaps by as much 800 million USD. However, in preparation for the upgrade, two Republic Of South Korea Air Force (ROKAF) F-16s were already flown to at BAe Systems facility in Fort Worth, Texas, earlier this year.

It is not unthinkable these two aircraft will stay there, not to be worked on by BAE Systems but by Lockheed Martin, who was also contending for the update program and has its own huge facility in Fort Worth.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest