Lockheed Martin offers stealth technology
Lockheed Martin is willing to outsource production of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and transfer stealth technology to Korea, should the nation opt to buy the aircraft, a senior company official said Monday.
Korea is currently seeking to develop domestic multirole fighters with stealth capability under a program, code-named KF-X and purchase 60 high-end aircraft from a foreign aerospace company under the FX-III program.
“We’d be honored to be a partner in the KF-X program,” Stephen O’Bryan, Lockheed's vice president for F-35 business development, said in an interview in Seoul.
“With the F-35 type of technology, we can give you (Korea) state-of-the-art stealth and fifth-generation manufacturing technology.”
Fifth-generation stealth technology can significantly reduce the size of the radar signature, helping an aircraft penetrate deep into enemy territory without being detected.
O’Bryan confirmed that the U.S. government has approved the production of the F-35 final assembly and checkout for Japanese assembly.
“We also intend to offer to build components and sub-components in Japan,” he added.
“We have done it with Italy, we are offering it to Japan, which are great U.S. partners, so is Korea.”
Italy, which plans to buy some 130 F-35s, has been allowed to have a final assembly line from which it will produce its own F-35s as well as ones to be delivered to the Netherlands.
“I think the U.S. government wants to keep that technology with the United States and its key coalition allies,” he said.
“It would be common sense that the U.S. would want to have assembly lines here. “
However, he noted that the U.S. government will have the final say about the extent of technological transfer after Seoul officially issues a request for proposal, which is expected to take place next January.
O’Bryan said Korea is in a great position to become a major industrial partner with Lockheed Martin as it has a strong manufacturing base and industrial partnership that spans over three decades.
“Korea’s highly capable aerospace industry is ideally suited to benefit on a long-term basis from F-35 industrial participation,” he said. “If Korea desires, Lockheed Martin is ready to partner it.”
Under the FX-III project, Korea has been seeking to replace its aging combat aircraft.
Russia recently decided to enter Korea’s advanced jet acquisition project, which would be the biggest arms-procurement deal ever in the country with a budget of 8.29 trillion won ($7.86 billion).
Russian aerospace firm company Sukhoi’s T-50 PAK-FA will vie with the F-35, the F-15 Silent Eagle from Boeing, and the Eurofighter Typhoon from the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS).
EADS also recently announced that it will offer Korea the chance to assemble some of the Eurofighter Typhoons in Korea, if it wins the FX bidding-race.