Boeing said it has applied for an export license to sell a stealthy variant of its F-15 fighter jet to South Korea, which is expected to release terms of a competition for 60 new fighters next year.
Brad Jones, Boeing program manager for the F-15 “Silent Eagle” model, said South Korea has already ordered 60 K models of the F-15 fighter, and has expressed interest in the newest variant of the successful fighter, which has special coatings to help it evade enemy radar, for the next phase of its fighter procurement, reports Reuters.
Jones said Boeing had provided flight evaluation data to the U.S. government in the fourth quarter of 2009 about the new F-15 model, and received an export release policy in the second quarter of 2010. The company followed up with a formal export license request pegged to South Korea’s interest, and was now awaiting the government’s decision.
He said it was not yet clear if South Korea would seek the stealthy version for all 60 fighters expected in the third tranche of its fighter replacement program.
Jones said Boeing had also reached an agreement with an international defence company to design the weapons bay for the F-15 Silent Eagle variant and other F-15 models, but said the company in question did not want to be identified.
Work on the program would begin once Boeing had a buyer for the new fighter model, he said.
Boeing unveiled plans for the “Silent Eagle” in March 2009, pegging its projected cost at roughly $100 million per plane, including pilot training, spares and support equipment.
U.S. military officials have said the new F-15 model would have an edge over other fighters of its generation with the stealthy coatings, but said the new plane would still be no match for the next-generation F-35 fighter being built by Lockheed Martin.