Rossiyskaya Gazeta notes that South Korea plans to acquire 60 fighter units that will guard the skies over Korea for the next thirty years as part of the completion of the third phase of the FX project aimed at rearming the Air Force. This transaction has already been called the “contract of the century” due to its unprecedented scale of procurement for South Korea.
Reception of applications to the organizing committee of the tender was stopped at the end of last week. According to the results, it turned out that Eurofighter Typhoon from the European concern EADS, the Gripen fighter from the Swedish SAAB, and two representatives will fight for Korean billions aviation US industries - F-35 (Lightning-II) from Lockheed Martin and F-15SE (Silent Eagle) from Boeing. Earlier in the newspaper The Korea Times, citing the Defense Procurement Agency of South Korea, information appeared that the Russian OKB Sukhoi was planning to compete with its T-50 fighter (PAK FA).
However, now it became known that the leadership of the United Aircraft Corporation was not even going to put up the Russian fighter jets for the competition. According to the source "Izvestia" in the KLA, the practices used in the T-50 are classified. While only three prototypes of this aircraft have been created, there is no export option among them yet. In addition, he noted that South Korea is an ally of the United States, so it was hardly worth expecting that they would choose Russian aircraft, not American ones.
But the main reason for the refusal of the Russian manufacturer to participate in the tender, according to the director of the Institute for Strategic Evaluations and Analysis, Alexander Konovalov, is that the developers are not yet ready to present a competitive version of the fifth-generation fighter to the court of experts. According to him, so far there is only a hint of this development, and the requirements in international tenders are very high - their onboard systems must be able to receive and process a huge amount of information, be equipped with a very powerful computer, be able to develop supersonic speed and remain invisible to radars.
The expert added that Americans use small copper rings in fighter coatings to reduce radio sight, but for now we do not use it. In addition, Konovalov noted that the mass production of T-50 has not yet begun at any of the aircraft manufacturing plants.
The T-50 was developed as a Russian response to the American F-22 and F-35 fighters. By the end of the year, flight test machines must be completed. And in 2013, they plan to start testing new missiles for it. It was shown to the general public last summer at the MAKS-2011 air show.
In addition, the Director of the World Trade Analysis Center weapons Igor Korotchenko believes that at the moment the T-50 project does not need financial support from Koreans. According to him, Russia has plans to sign a large contract with India, which has already expressed a desire to acquire 250 new T-50 fighter jets. Therefore, the loss of a hypothetical seven billion will not be critical for the project. He also mentioned that Russia already had experience in fighting for South Korean tenders, which showed that they were still betting on the United States.
Most likely, the suspicions that the tender is just an empty formality, and the preferences already given to partners from the United States, are by no means groundless. The Korean TV channel MBN made public the information that Seoul had already paid about a million dollars for the documentation of one of the American applicants F-35 before the tender was announced. This suggests that the political decision to purchase the F-35 has already been made, although, according to experts, in an honest competition, at least one more aircraft, the Eurofighter Typhoon, can compete with the American fighter.
Russia took part in a tender for the South Korean Air Force back in 2002. The Su-35 then lost the F-15 manufactured in the USA. However, it is worth noting that the purchase of Russian military equipment for the South Korean army was still made. Armed with them now stand Tanks T-80U and BMP-3.
Independent Military Review recalled that Russians, Europeans and Americans had recently taken part in a tender announced by India, which involves the delivery of a multi-purpose aircraft under the MMRCA program. Russia introduced the MiG-35, which, however, did not become the winner. The leaders were the French Rafale and the European Typhoon.