Lockheed Martin can now offer lower prices for F-35 fighter jets than originally proposed for Korea’s next-generation fighter jet procurement program.
At a forum hosted by the Korea Economic Institute on November 7, Richard Weitz, a senior researcher at the Hudson Institute, said, “Since the failure of the Korean deal, Lockheed Martin has taken orders for the F-35 from the Netherlands, Britain, Turkey, Australia, Italy, Norway, and Japan,” adding, “Given the increased production of the F-35, it is possible that Lockheed Martin will reduce the price of its tender bid.”
Lockheed Martin was priced out of the first contest, letting another US competitor, Boeing, go closer to the US$7.4 billion deal, but without a final closing.
Focusing on stealth capability, the Korean government apparently wanted to buy F-35s, but Lockheed’s prices exceeded its budget. The trial to choose the less-stealthy F-15SE as an alternative was aborted due to strong opposition from a group of retired Air Force officials.
However, Weitz said that it’s too early to rule out Boeing. Boeing also emphasizes that the F-15SE has better combat capability, and the F-35 has not been fully developed yet.
Since the failure of the deal, the Korean government has been seeking a new vendor, weighing the pros and cons of Lockheed’s F-35, Boeing’s F-15SE, and the Eurofighter Typhoon, while trying to reset the budget.