South Korea’s next-generation fighter program is under final bidding stage, with Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle (SE) in the contender position, according to The Korean Times.
The F-15 is contesting against Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II and Eurofighter Tranche 3 Typhoon in the U.S. Air Force program to buy 60 combat planes to replace its obsolete fleet of F-4s and F-5s.
The three-day bidding is scheduled to be finalized by Friday.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) carried out a total of 55 bidding sessions for three weeks between June and July, but no offer was within the required budget, with Boeing reportedly being closest to the ceiling price.
The Air Force is keen to purchase the F-35 to balance military power across the Asia-Pacific region considering its stealth capability. Currently, China is developing stealth fighters and Japan plans to acquire a total of 42 F-35s.
In order to catch up with the F-35 stealth jet, the Chicago-based Boeing “conceptually” patched up its F-15 Strike Eagle with a few features for low-observable capability. What it has proposed are conformal weapons bays (CWB), radar-absorbent material and canted vertical tails ― although they still cannot stop critics from casting doubt on the functionality of these. According to DAPA, the introduction of twin vertical tails set outward at 15 degrees requires direct Korean investment.
“The Silent Eagle is so named because of its stealth function, but without tilting the vertical tails, the aircraft will not be able to reduce its radar cross section (RCS) from the side,” Shin In-kyun, president of the Korea Defense Network said. “The F-15 is an aircraft whose RCS is high along with the Sukhoi Su-27. The CWB will not be able to perform as well as touted, either.”