Posted September. 25, 2013 01:40,
Selection of an aircraft model for a project to introduce 60 next-generation high-tech fighter jets has been rejected.
Only the F-15SE was submitted for review among the F-15SE from Boeing, F-35A from Lockheed Martin, and Eurofighter from EADS, but the F-15SE has been rejected in a review by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration committee, committee spokesman Baek Yoon-hyeong said at a briefing after the 70th meeting of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration committee on Tuesday.
The committee meeting chaired by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin started at 2 p.m. on the day the final evaluation to select a fighter jet model based on the results of evaluations in respective fields, including mission capabilities and prices of the models. But most of the 19 members of the (24-member) committee, who have a voting right, voted against the selection of the F-15SE by expressing objection.
Majority of watchers consider the committees decision "unexpected." Despite criticism that the F-15SE offers inferior stealth function designed to avoid the screening of conventional radars, military observers said the committee would have no choice but to pick a model to fill the gap in combat capability resulting from the deterioration of the aged fighter jets. Since the F-15SE was expected to seamlessly pass the committees review, it was referred to the committee for review as the only model whose suggested supply price was within the governments budget of 8.3 trillion won (7.2 billion U.S. dollars) among the three aircraft models.
In the wake of mounting criticism that Korea is poised not to buy the best performing fighter jet because price has become the absolute criteria for selection, however, members of the committee reversed their stance at the last minute. For starters, the F-15SE only stood in the second place, as it garnered a lower score than the F-35A in an assessment to select next-generation fighter jets that the committee conducted for four days from Sept. 9. The committees decision apparently reflects the denial in public of the F-15SE as a viable choice by 15 retired former Air Force Chiefs of General Staff.
The military plans to re-examine the F-X project by going back to square one. While planning to discuss the project by leaving open all possibilities, including adjustment of the number of jets to buy and of overall budget, the military will seek to swiftly implement the project to minimize vacuum in combat capabilities. We will set up a taskforce headed by the chief of the combat capability and resources office at the Defense Ministry, and implement the project in the shortest period possible in collaboration with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Air Force and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration so that vacuum in combat readiness is prevented.