The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company proposed Wednesday that South Korea purchase a combination of 40 Eurofighter Typhoons and 20 F-35s for its next-generation fighter procurement project.
The defense firm argued that a split procurement will offer a better blend of capabilities for peninsular security conditions, and that its “stable” Eurofighter program can ensure an earlier fixed delivery timetable, starting from 2017.
The EADS’ proposal came after Seoul all but decided last month to purchase 40 F-35 radar-evading fighters manufactured by Lockheed Martin, a U.S. defense firm, and start deploying them from 2018.
“We see the advantages of a split procurement of Eurofighters and F-35s, combining the benefits of both programs,” said Peter Maute, senior vice president of Eurofighter sales, during a press conference in Seoul.
|Peter Maute (EADS)|
“This would be in line with the approach of some future F-35 users who will, once it is eventually in service, operate it complementary to other aircraft in a specialized role, using its stealth attributes.”
He particularly stressed the “multi-role” capabilities of the Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 3 and the F-35’s specialized role for strike missions.
“The U.S. has developed the F-22 as a dominant air superiority fighter and plans (to use) the F-35 mainly for strike missions,” said Maute.
The United Kingdom and Italy, along with other nations, will begin using F-35s for specialized roles alongside the Eurofighter, which is of equal dominance to the F-22 in air-to-air contests and also has a full multi-role capability, he explained.
Maute also said that should Seoul opt to buy 40 Eurofighter Typhoons, his company would maintain its promises of technology transfer and industrial participation packages, which were made when Seoul planned to procure 60 warplanes.
The EADS’ industrial packages include technological support for Seoul’s so-called KF-X project to develop an indigenous warplane, and also an investment of up to $2 billion in the KF-X project.
Observers said it would be difficult for Seoul to reverse its current procurement plan and opt for the Eurofighter, considering that Seoul seeks to purchase all-aspect stealth aircraft to counter threats from North Korea and potentially from neighboring states.
Last month, Seoul decided to purchase 40 stealth warplanes for deployment from 2018-2021 and to later purchase an additional 20 warplanes, in consideration of shifts in the security environment and technological development.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org)