Posted June. 08, 2012 01:10,
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration of Korea said Thursday that it test aircraft through simulators instead of flight tests for two of the three candidate models for the nations next-generation fighter jet project worth 10 trillion won (8.5 billion U.S. dollars).
The state-run agency said it will conduct on-site performance tests on Lockheed Martins F-35 and Boeings F15SE in the U.S. in July and August this year. Tests on the EADS Eurofighter in Europe will come in September.
The testing process will have Korean Air Force pilot inspectors board the candidate planes and check the performance of the aircraft, which accounts for a large portion of the overall evaluation score.
The problem is that because the development of the F-35 and F-15SE has yet to be completed, Air Force evaluators cannot board the real planes to conduct flight tests.
An agency source said, We have not acquired U.S. government approval for the Korean Air Forces testing of the F-35 because the model is still under development. Hence, we will evaluate the aircraft through a simulator without conducting actual flight tests. The source also said the development of the F-15SE is not yet complete, and tests will be conducted with similar models equipped with core parts, including radar and electronic equipment.
The agency said, The rules for the project suggest that tests be conducted with a simulator if there is no completed product. If a core part has not been developed, tests can be conducted with a fighter jet equipped with similar parts and components, noting that such testing is acceptable.
But critics warn of the danger of potentially insufficient evaluations, saying that if tests are conducted with a simulator or similar model, adequate assessment of the performance of the models in question will prove difficult. Suppliers could also seek to hide defects or insufficient performance.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration will choose the supplier for the fighter project in October this year after conducting tests and holding negotiations. The project will introduce 60 fighter jets to the Korean Air Force.