Potential Sale of F-35s or F-15SEs to South Korea

The Pentagon last week announced the potential sale of either 60 Lockheed Martin F-35A strike fighters or 60 Boeing F-15 Silent Eagle fighters to South Korea. The F-35 deal would be a $10.8 billion foreign military sale, while the F-15SE transaction would be a $2.4 billion direct commercial sale, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s separate F-35 release and F-15SE release on April 3. Both cost estimates account for support, maintenance, parts, and training costs, over the course of 15 years. DSCA said it notified Congress on March 29 of the possible sales. The F-35 and the F-15SE are in contention to replace South Korea’s aging F-4 fighters in a competition that the South Koreans aim to decide later this year, reported Reuters. The South Koreans are also considering the Eurofighter. The F-15SEs would be equipped with active electronically scanned array radars, according to DSCA. The agency said the potential sale of either US fighter type would “augment Korea’s operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability.” The proposed F-15SE deal would mark the first foreign sale of Boeing’s new F-15 variant, which incorporates radar-evading attributes, among its features.