Logistics: F-15Ks Starved For Data


October 23, 2009: The South Korean Air Force accused the manufacturer, of their new F-15K fighter bombers, of not providing accurate information on the rate at which spare parts would be needed. As a result, the South Koreans have continually run short of spares, and been forced to cannibalize (remove parts from 5-6 of their F-15Ks) to keep most of the fleet operational. This happened 39 times in 2006, 203 times in 2007 and 350 times last year.

It's believed that the South Koreans did order enough spare parts, or have not monitored spares use adequately enough to calculate correct spare parts levels. The F-15Ks have had spares available 17 percent of the time they were needed. The normal rate is over 70 percent. Last year, Boeing donated a free F-15K to South Korea, as a replacement for one lost three years when the pilot, during a night exercise, became disoriented and crashed. The South Korean media then jumped on this because they asserted that the free jet would come without engines (which are made in South Korea).

The F-15K is a Korean version of the U.S. Air Force F-15E. The 64 foot long F-15K weighs 40 tons, and is equipped for air-to-air and, especially, air-to-ground combat. It has a 20mm cannon, and can carry 11 tons of munitions. This includes JDAM smart bombs, air-to-ground missiles and penetrating bombs for the extensive underground facilities found in North Korea. The F-15E is one of the most capable ground attack aircraft every built.

South Korea is paying $100 million each for its F-15Ks, and delivery of all 60 is expected to take another two years to complete. The U.S. stopped building the F-15E in 2004, and has about 210 in service. Over 1,500 F-15s are in service worldwide.