Lockheed Martin, the biggest U.S. defense contractor, announced on November 21 (local time) that it has received a US$1.2 billion (1.4 trillion won) contract to upgrade 134 F-16 fighters for South Korea's air force.
The upgrades are based on the advanced F-16V configuration. Among the enhancements are an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based avionics subsystem, a large-format, high-resolution center pedestal display and a high-volume and high-speed data bus.
"We truly appreciate the trust and confidence the Republic of Korea has placed in us with this contract," Lockheed Martin F-16 program vice president Susan Ouzts said in a press release.
In this regard, the prosecution has opened an investigation into a failed deal with the U.S. government to upgrade KF-16 fighter jets, which resulted in losses estimated at around 100 billion won (US$85 million) of taxpayer money, from August. The investigation came after the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) said that the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has organized the F-16 upgrade program from 2011 but set back the program as it failed to abide by the rules of foreign military sales (FMS) of the U.S. government. Accordingly, the prosecution raided the DAPA head office with a seizure and search warrant in August.