Congress has approved a potential foreign sale for 60 F-35A aircraft, or 60 F-15 Silent Eagle aircraft for South Koreas F/X-III requirement. Both are competing with each other, along with the Eurofighter Typhoon for the deal. A final decision is expected this June.
In other news, the USN has announced that it expects the RAAF to purchase 12-24 additional F/A-18F Super Hornets this summer. They also have high expectations for sales with Brazil, Malaysia, and Kuwait. Boeing Co. recently gave a demonstration of the fighter at Malaysia’s annual airshow in March. The Navy will be sending information regarding the F-18 family to Canada shortly, but a formal competition is not expected to be implemented for aircraft selection. Although Canada had committed to the F-35 in 2010, the country was recently forced to re-evaluate its options from the general auditor because of price increases and delays with the JSF.
Singapore is interested in buying more fighters. Over the past few months they have ‘low key’ been evaluating the F-35 and F-15SE… the South Korean F/X-III decision is expected to be a strong influence on the final decision. It is not known how many fighters they are seeking, or what timetable they are wanting delivery’s… not that we would know anyways as Singapore usually like’s to keep defense matters private.
In some pleasant news today, it was revealed that in August the country of Qatar was given two F-15E Strike Eagles and two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets for testing and evaluation. They plan to expand and update their fighter fleet with a contract of 25-35 new build jet fighters. Both of Boeing’s products have been in stiff competition, as the country is also considering the Rafale and F-16. Rafale is said to be the forefront choice, with Boeing’s jets trailing right behind. The country’s pilots got to fly and train first hand with the French in 2011. Boeing established it’s first office in Qatar back in 2010 with the sole purpose of this contract apparently. Nothing else is known about the competition such as requirements, but the decision should be made in a matter of months. I have to say that this competition is a bit odd, as the F-15 is in a completely different class than the F-18, Rafale, and F-16. No doubt it will have the highest cost of all of them, because it is meant for a much broader mission than the others. If South Korea chooses the Silent Eagle, this could give Boeing an advantage by having a share partner for the next generation platform.
So in the next year we have:
Brazil- Possible 36 Super Hornets (Main competition being Rafale).
South Korea- Possible 60 F-15SE Silent Eagles (Deadlock with F-35 and Typhoon).
Qatar- Possible- 25-35 Silent Eagles/Super Hornets (Main competition being Rafale).
Malaysia- Possible 18 Super Hornets (Main competition being Rafale).
Australia- Possible 18 Super Hornets (Main competition being F-35’s cost/timeline).
The stakes are high; there’s a lot of airframes on the line here!
Just as Brazil has delayed their decision for their contract, a deal that could ultimately land Boeing a 36 airframe order for Super Hornets, South Korea has announced that they will also post-pown their final decision until sometime in 2013. The contract is worth 60 airframes, and Boeing’s F-15SE is seen as the main front-runner along with Lockheed Martin’s F-35 platform. EAD’s Eurofighter Typhoon is also competiing for the prize. Flight and simulation elevations took place in August and September in St. Louis, Fort Worth, and Europe. The decision was supposed to be made in October, but because of elections it has been pushed back because the country fears they would loose their bidding power in getting the best price possible per airframe. The decision to delay has been met with strong opposition from the ROKAF, but remains intact.
Boeing previously won the South Korean FX-I and FX-II contracts for a total of 61 F-15K fighters produced. Boeing is counting on localized production of main fuselage and conformal weapon bays, a set delivery date, large payload, and 5th generation enhancements to the airframe in order to win the contract. South Korea want’s the first delivery for the winning product to be by mid 2016, with a first flight one year prior.
South Korea recently spent a few weeks in St. Louis testing out the F-15 Silent Eagle as it try’s to choose a contender for it’s F/X III competition that is worth at least 60 airframes.
I myself spotted many of these flights with some days having double sorties. In addition, the Silent Eagle got a snazzy new paint job. Hopefully pictures are released at some point!
South Korea will evaluate the Eurofighter and F-35 via Chase-Plane next month. A decision is expected to be made before the end of the year, but may be delayed until 2013.
Boeing’s F/A-18 line has orders with the USN to withstand production up to the 1st quarter of 2015. The F-15 line has orders with Singapore and Saudi Arabia that will keep eagles coming off until the end of 2019.
When put in retrospect, that is not a lot of time. With budgets in North America/Europe becoming nearly non-existent for defense contracts, Central America, Asia, and the Middle East are now crucial in order to keep talent, jobs, and money flowing for manufacturers. This year, two major contracts are at stake. One is for 36 F/A-18 Super Hornet’s for Brazil, while the other calls for 60 F-15 Silent Eagle aircraft for South Korea. Winning both of these contracts alone would give another year to the Hornet family and another two years for the Eagle nest (2016, 2021). In addition, it would make the airframe price fall for other potential buyers.
The only thing is, the above two contests are the last two major one’s for export orders. From 2013 onward, the majority of contracts would be for small buys that would call for a reduction in fighter production and possibly layoff’s for manufacturers across the board. On Boeing’s side they see potential in Denmark and Malaysia for the F-18, and the UAE for the Silent Eagle. Although Boeing is not sure on a fourth MYP contract from the USN, they are confident that more EA-18G growlers will be needed past 2015.
The F-35 program is also a big contender for Boeing, as some countries (and even the USN) have become more than worried about the benefit for price they are getting. The South Korean contract alone will have to test the F-35 via Simulator because the testing program is still behind schedule, making all test aircraft unavailable for flying. This is not to say Boeing is on greater footing, as the Silent Eagle does not technically exist, although the technology presented can be simulated better because of recently acquired F-15K’s/Boeing demonstrator. As for Brazil’s F/X-II competition, it seems to be entirely based on politics. With strong governmental support and newly created partnerships with Brazilian company’s Embraer and Elbit Systems, it comes across as a strong contender.
The next few years will be very telling for Boeing’s fast jet industry, although full confidence exists in the final product, one has to look at both sides of the glass for the potential outcome.
The final two F-15K’s 08-60 and 08-61 left St. Louis on Tuesday March, 27th to their new home at Daegu Air Base, South Korea. The official announcement was made today.
The first 40 airframes were delivered from 2005-2008. The second batch of 21 Slam Eagles started deliveries in late 2010. All airframes were delivered on time and within budget. The F-15K is credited for saving the production line back in 2002. With only six airframes left for the USAF, the F-15K contract paved the way for an additional eight years of production while opening the doors for both the F-15SG and Saudi Arabian F-15SA variants. The line is currently backlogged through 2018 with the Saudi deal.
Boeing is offering the F-15 Silent Eagle to South Korea for its FX-3 contract. The deal is worth an additional 60 airframes. A decision is expected later this year.
Congratulations to the Boeing F-15 team and the ROKAF! I will miss seeing Slam Eagles flying around.
F-15 Silent Eagle PowerPoint- Via Singapore Airshow
According to South Korean media, Boeing will not be submitting the F-15 Silent Eagle for the third phase of South Korea’s next generation fighter contract. A slow development of the conformal weapons bay’s along with the suspension of the 15 degree canted tails are to blame. Although Boeing flew and successfully launched a weapon out of the conformal bay in July 2010, development has been “slow” and will not be ready by the 2016 delivery date(s).
Interestingly enough, South Korea just dropped it’s conformal weapons bay requirement in order to promote greater “competition” between aircraft company’s.
Instead, Boeing may submit an upgraded F-15K that is slightly more advanced than the currently produced F-15SG for the third phase and use the SE options later down the road. Boeing won the first two phases in 2002, and 2005 respectively.
Although South Korea may evaluate the proposal, analysts say this does not help Boeing’s case for the sixty aircraft deal. South Korean Industries signed an agreement of understanding to develop and build the conformal bay’s in 2010.
UPDATE: Above is the Korean media spin, we now have new information from Boeing’s side…
Wind-tunnel and electronic testing of the Silent Eagle will begin in 4th Quarter 2012, and tests/analysts of the canted tails will begin in 2013. The goal is for them to submit the “idea” of the F-15SE and have the technology developed in time for the 2016 production start.
More information can be read here.
The final two F-15K’s 08-60 and 08-61 have begun their pre-delivery flight tests.
They are expected to be delivered in early April.
Six F-15K Slam Eagles leave Boeing St. Louis. Next Stop: Red Flag.
This was my viewpoint as I drove down the road yesterday:
Six F-15K’s were delivered today [054-059] (accompanied by a C-130H support), and are currently on their way to Nellis AFB to participate in Red Flag. After five years of production, South Korea will soon have their full fleet of F-15K’s come April.
Video coming soon!
UPDATE: I have received word that the six F-15K’s flown to red flag are tail numbers 054-059 meaning the final two F-15K’s have not yet been delivered. F-15K061 was recently spotted on a flight test run as well. The four F-15 delivery’s that took place in the 4th Q were numbers 054-057 and were stored at Boeing until Red Flag. Tail numbers 058-059, will be counted as this Q’s delivery.
Expect the final two F-15K’s to be delivered in the beginning of second Q.. aka April.