Posted May. 01, 2005 23:37,
The Korean Air Forces second Future Exchange (FX) project will begin in 2009 when it will introduce an additional 40 F-15K fighters to the 40 that will be adopted by the end of 2008.
According to the Defense Ministry yesterday, the second FX project was recently sanctioned officially by the government.
The Defense Ministry included the plan to start the second FX project in 2009 into the 2006~2010 middle-term defense plan and subsequently reported it to the National Security Council (NSC). It was reported that the NSC thoroughly reviewed the plan and approved it.
A well-informed high military official stated, There are a lot of limitations in maintaining North Korean deterrence with the force reduction of the USFK and conducting missions that match well with the slogan Strategic Air Force with only 40 F-15Ks that will be introduced by 2008. Accordingly, we decided to purchase additional state-of-the-art fighters. The budget for the second FX project is expected to be somewhere between five and six trillion won, similar to that of the first project.
It was reported that the Air Force strongly wishes to acquire additional 40 F-15Ks considering the efficiency of the Korea-U.S. joint missions, early promotion of the project, and the retrenchment of operation costs.
Yet, controversy is expected as some in the government think that the second project should be a purchase of improved F-16s, which are somewhat cheaper, or of another comparable model because one F-15K costs more than $100 million.
Meanwhile, one military official said, If the project begins in 2009, the actual introduction time is expected to be sometime after 2011, so it is worrisome that the Defense Ministrys goal to realize self-reliant defense will face quite a few obstacles. Thus, some in the military point out that the second FX project should be advanced by more than two years.