Lockheed Martin offers stealth technology to South Korea

Lockheed Martin is willing to outsource the production of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and transfer its stealth technology to Korea, shoul...

Lockheed Martin is willing to outsource the production of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and transfer its stealth technology to Korea, should the nation buy a fleet of the aircraft, a senior company official said Monday. 

“We’d be honored to be a new 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.”

Korea is currently seeking to purchase 60 high-end aircraft from a foreign aerospace company under a program code-named FX-III, and develop domestic multirole fighters with stealth capability under the KF-X program. 

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 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 an assembly line from which it will produce its own F-35s as well as ones to be exported to other European countries with the exception of Turkey and the United Kingdom. 

“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. “

O’Bryan said Korea is in a great position to become a major industrial partner with Lockheed Martin as Korea 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. A decision by the Republic of Korea to procure the F-35 would position Korean industry to be an integral part of the world’s only 5th Generation global production,” 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-15SE 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.

The Korea Times
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