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Written by Sabc   
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F-X Competition
Flight Demonstrations
Contract and Deliveries
Batch 2
Forum Discussion
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The F-15K selection procedure was a well planned and carefully executed program by Republic of Korea. Starting with a technology experimental competition in 1997 the process finally ended in 2002 when the intention to purchase 40 F-15K jets was officially announced. The "end product" to purchase is probably the best strike fighter jet ever built to date. The success story however was not without its share of twists and the purchase process was not without hurdles - as it is often used to be.


F-X Competition

The geopolitical situation of the Republic of Korea is something which urges its political and military leaders to stay on the edge in terms of military capabilities. Not just having North Korea on its northern border (with traditionally tense relationships) but also needs to face the Japanese and Chinese challenge. A South Korean set of islands called Dok To was a constant source of concern for South Korea, since Japanese F-15 fighters were able to patrol the island area for extended periods of time - and it turned out that the islands hide a significant reserve of petroleum underneath them.

So the Republic of Korea needed a long-range strike aircraft to face these multiple threats. An aircraft with good capabilities to carry a significant amount of payload to extended ranges.

The ROKAF started an international competition called 'F-X' (stands for Figther Experimental) to evaluate potential military strike aircraft to replace its fleet of ageing F-4 Phantoms. The original competition had focused on 'technology transfer', which meant acquiring source codes, capabilities and technologies with which they could create their own autonomous defence industry. In late 1997, ROKAF released an RFI. Boeing replied with the F-15E and the F/A-18. ROKAF received replies from 12 aircraft altogether in a beginning of a competition which offered a contract of around 60 aircraft in the mid-2000's.

The list of competitors was narrowed down to only 4. And RFP was then issued to Dassault (with Rafale), Boeing (with F-15E), Eurofighter (with Typhoon) and Sukhoi (with SU-35) first in 1998 and then a final version in 1999. This final RFP reduced the number of aircrafts to purchase to 40.

Flight Demonstrations

ROKAF was very keen on having the capabilities of the competitor aircraft demonstrated. Hence they orchestrated a detailed flight evalutation lasting for 3 weeks for the F-15E. ROKAF respresentatives were shown the PDM facilities at Warner Robins AFB, EW testing facilities, the APG-63(V)I radar house and simulator training. USAF IP's then flew the F-15E with ROKAF pilots in the front seat and conducted air-to-air and air-to-ground sorties. For the evaluations taken place in October 2000 at Elmendorf AFB, Boeing leased 3 F-15E aircraft from USAF. The aircraft were stripped from non-export equipment prior to evaluation flights.


On one mission, the first two LGB's the Korean pilot released went right through the target. The CFT's were removed to demonstrate compliance with a brake release to climb to 30,000 ft in two minutes - the F-15E achieved this in 80 seconds, a performance that elicited the response from one ROKAF pilot that the jet climbed too fast. Acceleration from Mach 0.6 to 0.95 had to be accomplished in 20 seconds and the F-15E did it in 8 seconds. Just a bit feeling to add behind this latter data: the speed difference between Mach 0.6 and 0.95 is somewhat more than 400 km/h (or more than 250 mph).  A 1001 hp Bugatti Veyron does only half of this (0-200 km/h in 7.4 seconds).

ATF and MTF performance was demonstrated in night and day conditions and the full envelope of the jet was explored. A total of 14 flights were conducted.

Contract and Deliveries

During 2001, the date for a decision in the F-X programme slipped progressively from July to September and then into 2002. Price offers were expected on 14 January 2002. Apparently, all were too high so that a second deadline of 24 January was given to lower the price. On 27th March 2002, the South Korean defence ministry eliminated the bids from Eurofighter and Sukhoi. This started a second phase evaluation, mainly based on foreign policy, security alliance, economical and industrial aspects.

On 19th April 2002, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced that it has completed the F-X evaluation and chosen the F-15K. 'We settled on Boeing´s F-15K after taking into account security, diplomatic and trade partnerships with bidder´s countries in the final round of competition', said Brig. Gen. Hwang Euidong, spokesman for the MND.

Winner was General Electric too, since their F-110- GE-129 was selected as powerplant for the F-15K. The contract was for 40 aircraft with deliveries beginning in 2005.

Boeing agreed to a price cut of 239 million US-Dollars in mid-May 2002, clearing the way for contract signature later in the year. Thus, the price came down to what Dassault had offered for its Rafale. Dassault claimed that Boeing had applied political pressure on ROKAF, but these claims were met with revelations that Dassault had bribed senior ROKAF pilots to 'recommend' the Rafale.

However the winner Boeing was going to supply an F-15K which is based on the F-15E Strike Eagle, but which contains a long list of moficiations (see article Technical Overview). As Tom Lillis, F-15K proposal manager commanted dryly, 'When the US Air Force guys learn about this jet, they are going to cry - this is all of the stuff that they want.'

Design work for the F-15K airframe was completed in April 2003, when Boeing began assembly of the central fuselage section. The critical design review for the systems development activities followed at the end of 2003.

Final assembly of the first F-15K for South Korea started in May 2004 at St. Louis. It was completed in October. Flown by Boeing Chief F-15 test pilot Joe Felock and Chief WSO Rick Junkin, the F-15K made its first flight on schedule on 3rd March 2005. The official rollout ceremony was held on 16th March 2005, at St. Louis. The ceremony was attended by General Lee, Han-ho, the ROKAF Chief of Staff.


The aircraft’s service life is planned through 2040, with technology insertions and upgrades throughout its life cycle.

The F-15K became the first Eagle variant to release a SLAM-ER standoff weapon on 27 March 2006. The firing was made at Point Mugu, California, at 25000 ft and Mach 0.8, around 180 km (100 nm) from the target.

The last airframe of the first batch (of 40 airframes) has been delivered as agreed on 8th October 2008, during the Seoul Air Show. One airframe has been crashed due to pilot error (the pilot blacked out during a high-G maneuver) on 6th August 2006. The F-15K left Daegu Air Base at 19:42. The aircraft discharged simulated air-to-air weapons at 20:11 but, while manoeuvring to respond to an opponent’s attack, the crew sent a “knock it off” signal at an altitude of 11,000ft – the aircraft crashing 16 seconds later, at 20:12:19.

Batch 2

Not much before the completion of the first batch deliveries, the Korean government announced on 25th April 2008 that a second batch of 21 F-15Ks, worth 2.3 billion USD, was ordered (this second batch would have originally contained 20 airframes, but it was increased by one to compensate for the airframe lost in 2006). The delivery was scheduled between 2010 and 2012. Unlike the first batch of F-15Ks, this second batch will be powered by Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engines. 46 engines will be built by Samsung Techwin under license. South Korea added that P&W engines have commonality with its KF-16's. It is a bit unusual to have different types of engines for the same aircraft type, but Pratt & Whitney offered better pricing, part production sharing, and warranty options.

The first jet of this second batch (produced by Boeing under the Next Fighter II contract), airframe F-15K41 completed its first flight on 22 April 2010. Batch 2 deliveries were performed in the following schedule:

  • 6 airframes (F-15K41 through F-15K46) delivered in 2010.
  • 2 airframes (F-15K47 and F-15K48) delivered at Daegu Air Base on Mar 15, 2011.
  • 2 airframes (F-15K49 and F-15K50) delivered at Daegu Air Base on May 31, 2011.
  • 3 airframes (F-15K51 through F-15K53) delivered at Daegu Air Base on Aug 20, 2011.
  • 3 airframes(F-15K54 through F-15K56) delivered in January, 2012.
  • 3 airframes (F-15K57 through F-15K59) delivered at Daegu Air Base in March, 2012.*
  • 2 airframes (F-15K60 and F-15K61 delivered at Daegu Air Base on Apr 2, 2012.

* Note that airframes F-15K57 through F-15K59 rolled off from the assembly line in January 2012. After having participated in Red Flag 2012 they were flown back to St. Louis and after a few modifications they were delivered "officially" to South Korea in March 2012.


With this, Boeing completed all deliveries on-schedule and on-cost. Fleet service life is planned through 2040.

In 2011 the Slam Eagles received the Sniper targeting pod as well. After Lockheed Martin demonstrated the benefits of Sniper pod’s capability for ROKAF by successfully flying Sniper on the F-15K and the KF-16 aircraft with a common Sniper pod software load in 2009, the first pods arrived to Daegu Air Base on Apr 18, 2011.


In Feb 2012 Boeing has received a Performance Based Logistics (PBL) contract from the Republic of Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) to ensure the long-term, affordable sustainment of the Republic of Korea Air Force ( ROKAF) fleet of F-15K fighter jets. The five-year contract, valued at approximately USD 300 million, also brings new opportunities to local industry. Hyundai Glovis will provide in-country logistics handling and supply chain distribution activities.

"Boeing is pleased to continue supporting the ROKAF F-15 fleet, which already has achieved some of the best mission-capability rates of any air force operating the F-15, and those rates have continuously improved since the aircraft's introduction to the ROKAF," said Jim O'Neill, vice president and general manager, Boeing Integrated Logistics. "A PBL approach will ensure the F-15K remains operationally ready to protect the Republic of Korea for years to come by keeping mission-essential parts available when needed to meet the ROKAF's F-15K Mission Capability needs, while managing overall life-cycle cost and providing new opportunities for Korean industry."

"Hyundai Glovis brings its expertise in logistics handling and distribution to Boeing's long-term PBL solution, helping ensure the ROKAF has the right parts at the right place at the right time," said Brian Kim, vice president, Boeing Defense, Space & Security Business Development for Korea.

PBL is an alternative to the traditional transactional approach to purchasing supply and maintenance support for defense programs. With PBLs, customers buy agreed-to outcomes -- for example, a set mission-readiness rate -- versus purchasing spare parts on a transactional basis.



Steve Davies:

Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle - All-Weather Attack Aircraft

2003, Airlife Books, ISBN 1840 373 784

Hardcover, 7.7" x 10" (19.5 cm x 25 cm), 208 pages, over 250 images

It has taken over 18 months to research and write, and the author estimates that as much as 70% of the text is new information that has yet to reach the public domain. It is, without question, the most detailed, well-researched and authoritative analysis of the F-15E Strike Eagle ever written. It is an absolute must-have for all F-15E enthusiasts, many info within this site comes from this book. rating: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Last Updated on Sunday, 13 May 2012

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Discuss (3 posts)
F-15K Development
May 12 2012 23:45:36
I know you want to be precise as possible...

A little known fact was that F-15K's 57-59 were flown back to St. Louis after Red Flag in January 2012. They had a few more modifications to be done before "official" delivery. They left for South Korea in mid March. No announcement of this was made unlike prior delivery's.
F-15K Development
May 12 2012 23:47:37
Re:F-15K Development
May 13 2012 20:31:43
Many thanks, I updated the article accordingly.