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Subject: Saab Offers Supercruising Stealth to South Korea
Softwar    7/8/2008 4:19:17 PM
Saab Offers Supercruising Stealth to South Korea Aviation Week & Space Technology 07/07/2008 , page 32 South Korea?s combat aircraft requirement draws out advanced proposals from Western fighter houses A Saab proposal to co-develop a stealth fighter with South Korea is raising the prospect of an Asian-European aircraft emerging to compete with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning. The South Korean project to build an advanced combat aircraft alternatively offers to fund developments of the Eurofighter Typhoon or to help sustain Boeing?s waning fighter business?but there is also a strong chance that the ambitious program will collapse into yet another F-35 order. Saab is pitching a new design for a supercruising stealth fighter to South Korea, as well offering the possibility of joining the Gripen next-generation program (AW&ST June 30, p. 42). Boeing is putting forward developments of the F-15, including reviving a 1990s concept without tail fins, and it has also offered a new fighter design. EADS is pushing developments of the Typhoon beyond the Tranche 3 standard, and also flagging the opportunity of participating in its combat drone project. It may also have submitted a clean-sheet-of-paper fighter concept. Lockheed Martin meanwhile is telling Seoul that the F-35 Lightning will meet its needs. That?s not surprising, since it has no business interest in supporting South Korean ambitions to co-develop a stealth fighter, which would surely become an F-35 competitor. The diverse range of offerings from the four manufacturers reflects uncertainty in South Korea itself over combat aircraft development. The air force wants an advanced fighter, but various factions in the government, industry and military are debating whether the country should fill that requirement by buying off the shelf or by taking part in development of a new aircraft or major derivative. The country has two substantive fighter requirements, F-X Phase III for 60 aircraft and then F-XX for 120. It also has a parallel domestic stealth fighter development program, KFX. The F-XX requirement calls for fifth-generation aircraft, so the hope is that KFX will fill that need through a joint program between South Korean and foreign industry, with the latter carrying up to 30% of the development cost. But KFX is up for review this month by the administration of new President Lee Myung-bak. It may be canceled or restricted to co-production or assembly of an existing aircraft, boosting Lockheed Martin?s hopes of an order for the F-35. An intermediate possibility would be South Korean involvement in less advanced developments of current production aircraft. The manufacturers presented their ideas at an air force seminar in Seoul on June 26. Saab has circulated two series of designs for South Korea, for single and twin aircraft, recent iterations of which have been designated P305 and P306, respectively. Its presentation at the seminar showed only the twin-engine design, probably reflecting South Korean views on how large an aircraft is needed. The air force?s Warfare Development Group has described the KFX as having a capability between that of the F-15 and F-16. By ?capability? it must mean weight and thrust class, since a new stealth aircraft would be much more capable than even updates of the 1970s designs. Saab gave no specifications for its design but the external weapons shown on a drawing suggested an aircraft length of 17-18 meters (56-59 ft.). Span is much less than the length, possibly about 12 meters. If those rough estimates are correct, then the Saab stealth fighter would be at least as large as the Typhoon. Saab shows single- and tandem-seat versions of the design. Inlet configuration is similar to the F-22?s, and the tail fins are canted. The trailing edge of the main-plane is swept forward, again like the F-22?s, but the leading edge looks significantly less swept. A gun is mounted abreast the left inlet duct. The manufacturer promotes the aircraft as a balanced multirole design offering broadband stealth, supercruise, ?range and endurance,? integrated sensors, avionics and weapons, and situational awareness through the human-machine interface. It also claims attractive ?low life-cycle cost, growth potential [and] exportability,? while dismissing ?extreme stealth? as ?suitable for tailored platforms.? Internal weapons stowage seems to be limited, since Saab says the bays are optimized for the air superiority role, although it still describes the aircraft as multirole in high-threat scenarios. External stores would be carried for low-threat scenarios. One of the three bays is behind the pit and between the inlets, and the other two are in the lower corners of the fuselage under the wing. With domestic development, ?upgrades and changes to the aircraft can be implemented according to Republic of Korea Air Force priorities without interference by [the] seller?s government, etc.,? Saab ar
 
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smitty237    Exercise in futility?   7/8/2008 7:04:07 PM
This all sounds great, but every word of it will become a moot point if (when) the North collapses and the Koreas are forced to unify quickly.  The South won't even be able to afford new non-stealth aircraft, much less the F-35 or a homemade design.  The economics of integrating millions of impoverished Northerners into mainstream Korean society will be crippling, and will probably sideline Korea for decades. 
 
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Softwar       7/9/2008 8:29:34 AM

This all sounds great, but every word of it will become a moot point if (when) the North collapses and the Koreas are forced to unify quickly.  The South won't even be able to afford new non-stealth aircraft, much less the F-35 or a homemade design.  The economics of integrating millions of impoverished Northerners into mainstream Korean society will be crippling, and will probably sideline Korea for decades. 


Virtually all the ROK intell and military folks I have talked to fear this scenario the most.  They estimated that it will take several hundred billion dollars to bring the DPRK back into the modern world.  They based this estimate on the spending required by West Germany to integrate East Germany after the fall of the wall.
 
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RockyMTNClimber    Question from the peanut gallery....   7/9/2008 12:18:18 PM

This all sounds great, but every word of it will become a moot point if (when) the North collapses and the Koreas are forced to unify quickly.  The South won't even be able to afford new non-stealth aircraft, much less the F-35 or a homemade design.  The economics of integrating millions of impoverished Northerners into mainstream Korean society will be crippling, and will probably sideline Korea for decades. 

Who actually thinks that the PLA-Chinese despots will simply allow South Korea to set up a very western democracy on the Yalu? My view is that China will intervene, then set up a new puppet to replace the family kim and continue with the suppression.
 
The world will have no relief in North Korea for the forseeable future. IMV.
 
Check Six
 
Rocky
 
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Softwar       7/9/2008 1:16:54 PM



This all sounds great, but every word of it will become a moot point if (when) the North collapses and the Koreas are forced to unify quickly.  The South won't even be able to afford new non-stealth aircraft, much less the F-35 or a homemade design.  The economics of integrating millions of impoverished Northerners into mainstream Korean society will be crippling, and will probably sideline Korea for decades. 




Who actually thinks that the PLA-Chinese despots will simply allow South Korea to set up a very western democracy on the Yalu? My view is that China will intervene, then set up a new puppet to replace the family kim and continue with the suppression.

 

The world will have no relief in North Korea for the forseeable future. IMV.

 

Check Six

 

Rocky




Ironically, you might be more right than you think - the South Korean's may let China take care of the mess in the DPRK simply to avoid the outragious expense. 
 
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smitty237    Collusion   7/9/2008 8:19:28 PM
You guys are probably right for the most part.  A sudden collapse in the North and a quick unification of the Koreas serves no one's interests.  I'm sure that's one reason why the United States ratherly unexpectedly took North Korea off the list of nations that sponsor terrorism.  In my opinion, Kim's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons are as much about buying time for himself as they are about getting The Bomb.  It's really the only chip he has left.  As long as he doesn't try to get nukes, the food shipments will continue to roll in and help maintain the fragile status quo in the North. 
 
I guess the $64,000 question is what would happen if Kim suddenly dropped dead, or worse, a group of junior officers stormed the palace one day and a new regime openly appealed to the South to assume control of the North?  I don't think there's any way that the South could say no.  There would simply be too much internal and international pressure for Korea to politely decline and allow the Chinese to send in troops to prop up a puppet government in the North.  Another strike against the Chinese option is that once the Chinese take control, you're going to have a hard time getting rid of them.  I'm sure the Koreans are very well aware of this.  The Chinese don't want another potentially hostile neighbor on its border, but I have to wonder if the Chinese are willing to use force to take over the North should a sudden collapse of Kim's regime takes place.  Would the South Koreans go to war over the North?  Would we?
 
A slow, gradual unification process is what South Korea and the United States want, but that might be wishful thinking.  If the Koreans are basing their estimates on the cost of unification on how much it cost the Germans, then I would dare say that they are estimating on the low end.  East Germany was a communist country, but it had a rather sophisticated, well educated society.  North Korea, on the other hand, is a basket case.  Its people are starving, desperate, and have been thoroughly indoctrinated by a communist cult of personality that has ruled with an iron fist for over sixty years.  The vast majority of North Koreans have known nothing but.  I guess a lot of people will be cheering Kim Jong Il's good health for years to come.
 
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dwightlooi       7/10/2008 12:19:06 AM
I think an F-35 derivative design which specializes in air superiority is  the best option if they want a co-developed fighter.
 
Retain the F-35 fuselage, weapon bays, cockpit, radar, communications setup, DAS/EOTS sensors, EW suite and all the expensive to develop stuff. Just do a simple re-wing, add a new tail section and drop in an uprated F135/136 engine in the 50,000 lbs thrust class. It'll be a lot cheaper and a lot faster to develop than an all new fighter, and it'll have the advantage of sharing an architecture and supply chain with the biggest fighter program in the world.
http://img507.imageshack.us/img507/3224/f35ehb2.jpg" />

 
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Photon       8/7/2008 11:30:33 PM
My takes on S. Korean future fighter program:
 
1.  They are not just shopping around for advanced fighter jets, they want the necessary technology to design and produce such.  If this were not the case, then the issue would have been much simpler.
 
2.  An arms-race has been going on in NE Asia for a decade.  Both China and Japan have been busily upgrading respective armed forces.  Not a wise policy to get behind.  On the other hand, both of them have considerably bigger economies than S. Korea; so this is pain-in-the-ass.  This arms-race is less about quantity, but more about quality.
 
3.  If the priority is to gain access to advanced technology, probably a better bet to partner with a European firm, such as Saab.  Or ... Dessault?  EADS??  (If anything, all of them need new export markets, which would put S. Korea into relatively better position on the table than if they were to take on American firms.)  But at the risk of pissing off American firms and their politicians.
 
My takes on N. Korea:
 
1.  No external political threats against the Kim regime.  As a matter of fact, the last thing anyone wants to see is the implosion of N. Korea.
 
2.  By now, China has had a plenty of experience in supporting despicable regimes in places like Sudan.  If this were to serve as a precedence, then it should not be surprising if China props up N. Korea after the implosion of the Kim regime.  (The Chinese could care less about the surname of the leader in Pyongyang; the only thing that will be important is that if the man in Pyongyang conforms to Chinese regional interests.)  It would be interesting to study segments of N. Korean elites.  For example, which one of them -- the military and the party -- have been more pro-Chinese?
 
3.  Of course, there are tens of millions of poor and starving N. Koreans and the Chinese will have to do something about them.  On the other hand, who says that the Chinese will have to take care of them?  Just prop up a workable regime that can stay in power and let it do as it pleases.
 
4.  China might have the initiative once N. Korea implodes, because China is not burdened with the kind of role of 'world's policeman' that US has.
 
5.  Meanwhile .... nothing attractive for S. Korea beyond the DMZ, whether the Kim regimes stays up or not.  N. Korean collapse would expose S. Korea's two outstanding weaknesses -- amaturish foreign policymaking and lack of large-scale occupations.
 
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Photon       8/8/2008 12:43:33 AM
My takes on S. Korean future fighter program:
 
1.  They are not just shopping around for advanced fighter jets, they want the necessary technology to design and produce such.  If this were not the case, then the issue would have been much simpler.
 
2.  An arms-race has been going on in NE Asia for a decade.  Both China and Japan have been busily upgrading respective armed forces.  Not a wise policy to get behind.  On the other hand, both of them have considerably bigger economies than S. Korea; so this is pain-in-the-ass.  This arms-race is less about quantity, but more about quality.
 
3.  If the priority is to gain access to advanced technology, probably a better bet to partner with a European firm, such as Saab.  Or ... Dessault?  EADS??  (If anything, all of them need new export markets, which would put S. Korea into relatively better position on the table than if they were to take on American firms.)  But at the risk of pissing off American firms and their politicians.
 
My takes on N. Korea:
 
1.  No external political threats against the Kim regime.  As a matter of fact, the last thing anyone wants to see is the implosion of N. Korea.
 
2.  By now, China has had a plenty of experience in supporting despicable regimes in places like Sudan.  If this were to serve as a precedence, then it should not be surprising if China props up N. Korea after the implosion of the Kim regime.  (The Chinese could care less about the surname of the leader in Pyongyang; the only thing that will be important is that if the man in Pyongyang conforms to Chinese regional interests.)  It would be interesting to study segments of N. Korean elites.  For example, which one of them -- the military and the party -- have been more pro-Chinese?
 
3.  Of course, there are tens of millions of poor and starving N. Koreans and the Chinese will have to do something about them.  On the other hand, who says that the Chinese will have to take care of them?  Just prop up a workable regime that can stay in power and let it do as it pleases.
 
4.  China might have the initiative once N. Korea implodes, because China is not burdened with the kind of role of 'world's policeman' that US has.
 
5.  Meanwhile .... nothing attractive for S. Korea beyond the DMZ, whether the Kim regimes stays up or not.  N. Korean collapse would expose S. Korea's two outstanding weaknesses -- amaturish foreign policymaking and lack of large-scale occupations.
 
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doggtag    one (or two) more for photon's list:   8/8/2008 10:12:43 AM
Staying away from the political and focusing purely on the aircraft itself,
I'm very curious about the SAAB/Korean 2-engined proposal...
 
Being stealthy, it's obviously not going to be just a Gripen NG variant (probably wouldn't even look as though they were attempting to make their own Rafale knock-off, which might be what a 2-engined Gripen NG stealth-enhanced variant could somewhat resemble).
 
What I'm thinking is,
something that's going to get pretty close then in payload capability, and possibly range, to a Super Hornet, but with improved stealth characteristics.
It may not be a supercruise platform,
but if it can prove to rival the Super Hornet's range and payload in a reduced observability,
it could very well rise to challenge every other western-designed (including Europe) twin-engined aircraft, as it's been made obvious the US just won't budge on selling F-22s.
 
If Boeing can't produce some novel reduced-signature Super Hornet or F-15K/ST (because we know there's no chance in heaven or hell Boeing will help design a brand new stealth aircraft on the cheap from the ground up, especially if it means giving the majority of production to the Koreans and SAAB. Ditto for Lockheed Martin, despite any foreign F-16 assembly lines they committed to),
then this could be the very aircraft that Japan is looking for to replace its aging F-15s (could ease tensions over fisheries and other things between the two countries, having a joint production pact), and might even sway Australia, if it can offer Super Hornet capabilities or better in a more stealthy airframe.
It could also then entice the Israelis, who we've seen mentioned numerous times on being a possible foreign F-22 customer if it ever was cleared for sale.
 
I'd almost love to see it myself, if anything just to hear just how outrageous the debates on here would become concerning its capabilities and characteristics compared to numerous other current aircraft designs.
 
If it incorporates the very latest in AESA technologies (most likely) and they do achieve a measure of stealthiness that surpasses everything other than the F-22 and F/A-35 (might as well call it that),
then this new twin-engined platform could be the nightmare that many other aircraft manufacturers never wanted to see become reality. The potential is there, if SAAB and Korea can pull it off, to outstrip the (anticipated) sales of even the JSF, much to the dismay of countless component suppliers (who'd be foolish not to jump on the KFX program if offered the chance).
 
Going to be an interesting competition indeed, even if the financial obstacles are highly against it. 
Still, Sweden did manage to pull off the Gripen to begin with, and with minimal outside assistance (let alone futher refine it into the NG), something that, for a country its size (population) and GDP (how much money could they afford to put into the program), by the math shouldn't have happened
(at least not by the kind of defense contract math that the big US defense contractors use).
 
Two-engine safety in a low-signature aircraft with decent range, payload, and a very capable AESA, and at an affordable price with little or no US Govt-imposed sales restrictions? That could very easily halt a lot of modernized Gen4/4.5 western designs from achieving sales in the future (and certainly hamper the single-engined JSF's future sales).
 
 
 
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giblets       8/8/2008 2:38:24 PM
I'm guessing the safer option for Korea is an aircraft based upon an existing airframe, this way, depending on how things pan out financially, they can cut back their requirements more easily, whilst still getting a pretty good aircraft, and some know how on how to do things.
Start a new design, and cut back on funds, and you are backed into a corner. So the Eurofighter/ Rafale/ F-15  Upgrade could benefit their industry more, whilst reducing risks. A lot of the technology for these jets is already in their hands, so all the research will be on their cutting edge..
Think the UAV project could be a good carrot, as most countries are starting to see what the reaper etc can do these days
 
 
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