Wednesday, February 21, 2024

South Korea to upgrade its F-15 fighter jets

Aerospace giant Boeing has unveiled plans for a comprehensive upgrade of South Korea’s F-15K fighter jets.

According to Dong-A Ilbo, this transformation involves outfitting the cockpit, radar, and other components with state-of-the-art equipment to introduce an advanced variant.

Boeing representatives disclosed ongoing discussions between the U.S. and South Korea during a meeting held on October 29th at the Boeing Mesa facility in Arizona. They highlighted the imminent shift towards a new model by integrating cutting-edge technology into the entire front section of the aircraft, including cockpit and radar systems.

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Last year, during the 148th Defense Acquisition Program Administration meeting, South Korean military authorities ratified the fundamental strategy for the ‘F-15K Enhancement Project.’ This strategy involves replacing the aircraft’s mechanical radar with an Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and bolstering its electronic warfare capabilities. The project, slated to run from 2024 to 2034, is estimated to require a total investment of approximately 3.46 trillion won.

The upgrade initiative will focus on three major enhancements: the installation of the AN/APG-82 radar, strengthening cockpit display functionalities, and incorporating the ‘Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System’ (EPAWS), a new electronic warfare suite.

Boeing officials anticipate that once the enhancement of the F-15K is complete, the fighter jets will possess an extended operational range and improved performance, enhancing interoperability during joint U.S.-South Korea aerial operations.

EPAWS, a system also deployed in the latest variant of the F-15 fighter jets operated by the U.S. Air Force, represents a crucial addition to South Korea’s F-15K fleet.

South Korea has proposed the removal and replacement of the entire front section of the F-15K, which comprises the cockpit and the forward fuselage, owing to its design that allows detachment between the cockpit and wings when necessary.

Robert Novotny, Boeing’s Director of F-15 Programs and Development, highlighted that although there were considerations for partial component replacements, research conducted by the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) advocated for the efficacy of an entire front section replacement.

Novotny specified that the rear section of the F-15K, which undergoes adequate maintenance, is not included in this upgrade initiative.

Furthermore, Novotny emphasized the necessity of these enhancements in keeping pace with modernized adversaries and staying ahead in the evolving landscape of aerial combat. He mentioned ongoing collaboration with South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration on related matters.

The F-15K enhancement project signifies a substantial leap in South Korea’s defense capabilities, showcasing a commitment to technological advancements and operational prowess in safeguarding the nation’s airspace.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Gu Min Chul
Gu Min Chul
Gu Min Chul is a defense reporter who covers the Korean defense industry and all related issues.

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