Everyone should read this article about the ROKAF:
Major cost overruns for FX phase 3 threaten the continuation of the KF-X project:
"Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) still needed another 60 next-generation fighters. Thus, the F-X Phase 3 (F-X III) project was launched, with the aim of procuring those 60 additional air fighters to supersede the aging F-4 and F-5 fleet. The plan is to introduce them between 2017 and 2021 at a cost of 8.3 trillion won ($7.3 billion)." Or at a cost of only $122 million a fighter. Including life cycle costs this is completely impractical.
My own view is that South Korea should reduce the size of F-X Phase 3 (F-X III) to 40 aircraft to keep within budget.
South Korea's defense budget is about $37 billion a year of which $10 billion is for procurement. ROKA spends about $5 billion on procurement. Navy another $2.5 billion per year. Limiting the Air Force to $2.5 billion in procurement.
ROKA procurement is on a tear to deal with the North Korean threat. Plus tens of billions are being spent on assuming war time command.
Finally life cycle costs for gen 5 and gen 4.75 aircraft with stealth capabilities are extremely high relative to initial procurement costs:
"ROKAF is already starting to struggle with the heavy maintenance costs of cutting-edge air fighters. According to a Korea Times report which cited a senior air force official (speaking on the condition of anonymity), maintenance costs for the F-15K rose 10-fold, from 9.7 billion won ($8.5 million) in 2008 to 95.82 billion won ($85 million) in 2011, about the price of a new F-15K. This is natural given that the ROKAF itself only repairs 60 avionics parts. Yet the maintenance costs associated with the potential F-X III partners will be even higher.
According to a parliamentary reply by Peter Luff dated September 14, 2010, the Royal Air Force (RAF) calculated that the cost per flight hour of operating the Tornado GR4 was £35,000, the Harrier GR9 £37,000 and the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 £70,000, while the German Defense Ministry estimated last year that a one-hour flight in a Eurofighter would cost €76,000.
Maintenance for the F-35 would be similarly expensive. The international auditing firm KPMG estimated that the full life-cycle cost of the F-35s in Canada’s Next Generation Fighter Capability project would be $44.8 billion. This estimate covers the period beginning in 2010, with the government’s announcement of its intention to acquire the F35, and ends 42 years later with the disposal of the last aircraft in 2052. The report also estimated that $35.9 billion would be spent on future maintenance, which excludes development and acquisition cost."
This issue is complicated by the fact that South Korea is considering technology transfer as part of the FX phase 3 procurement.
For example if South Korea chooses to buy 60 Eurofighters, part of the deal will likely include technology transfer for KF-X.
Here are some questions for everyone:
Will South Korea get technology transfer for KF-X if it buys F-15K silent eagles? Will South Korea get tech transfer for KF-X if it buys F-35s?
How much money will South Korea save by skew rationalization if South Korea buys additional F-15K silent eagles (since South Korea already has F-15K silent eagles, maintenance costs are likely to be lower)?
My view is that South Korea has to either purchase the Euro-fighter if it gets sufficient tech transfer for KF-X or F-15 X silent eagles, albeit for only 40 models, if South Korea does not get sufficient tech transfer.
Does South Korea even have the option of buying 40 F-35s? Imagine the cost of maintaining the existing F-15Ks and 40 F-35s would be substantially greater than the cost of maintaining existing F-15Ks and 40 new F-25Ks.
The reason South Korea wants a high end aircraft is for deep penetration of North Korean airspace to near the Chinese border. Which of these three models has the largest range in the configurations South Korea might consider?