Monday, July 25, 2011

Russia Offers PAK FA To South Korea

     Stephen Trimble over at The DEW Line reports that Russia is offering the PAK FA to South Korea for the FX-III section of the FX fighter competition.
      When the PAK FA was unveiled last year, Russia has been working with India to develop a variant of the PAK FA for the Indian Air Force. The PAK FA is still in the testing phase, and will probably not enter service for another 1-5 years, but that does not mean it is unavailable for export (a good example of this would be the F-35). 
     South Korea has been running a fighter competition since 1999, with the 1st and 2nd phases culminating in the purchase of 61 F-15K Slam Eagles. Competing in in the 3rd phase for an order of 60 aircraft, are the Lockheed Martin F-35, Boeing F-15SE, and the Sukhoi PAK FA. Of these three the F-15SE is, in my view the leading contender for the contract, due to the fact that South Korea already manufactures parts for the F-15K, and thus would be compatible with some parts from the F-15K. The other two contenders, the F-35 and PAK FA, are not as appealing to Seoul, due to the facts that the F-35 is having problems, and is rising in cost, and that the PAK FA is still in flight testing and would cause South Korea to rely on Russia for parts and weapons for them. On top of this, the F-15SE offers a reduced radar signature, and similar payload, when compared to the F-15K. Along with proven performance compared to the F-35 and PAK FA.
       Another one of the main factors South Korea will be factoring in, is how these aircraft will perform in a war with North Korea. The F-15SE has a larger payload and better maneuvering than the F-35, and is compatible with American missiles which is what South Korea uses. The PAK FA on the other hand is only compatible with Russian missiles, which would mean South Korea would have to purchase weapons from Russia, and that brings up the possibility of Russia not selling the missiles in a war with North Korea.
     As the F-X contest continues, it will be interesting to see which aircraft South Korea chooses, and why they chose it.

Photo Credit: The DEW Line 

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