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Congressional OK Sought for F-15 Sale to South Korea

By Rich Smith - Apr 4, 2013 at 10:10AM

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South Korea needs new fighter jets. Boeing would like to sell it some, Congress permitting.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on Wednesday (link opens in PDF) that it has notified Congress of plans to make a "Foreign Military Sale" to South Korea of 60 Boeing (BA -1.01%) F-15SE "Silent Eagle" fighter jets. The sale, which would be structured as a direct commercial sale from Boeing to the Republic of Korea, is estimated to be worth $2.4 billion once the cost of associated equipment, parts, training, and logistical support are factored in.

Justifying the sale, DSCA advised Congress that "this proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by meeting the legitimate security and defense needs of an ally and partner nation ... [augmenting] Korea's operational aircraft inventory and enhance[ing] its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability, provid[ing] it with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region." 

DSCA further advised that as the F-15SEs are delivered, the ROK Air Force plans to decommission the ancient F-4 Phantom fighter jets currently in its arsenal to make way for the new planes. Hence, "Korea will have no difficulty absorbing this additional equipment and support into its inventory."

As in a similar notification that DSCA gave Congress regarding a proposed F-35 fighter jet sale to South Korea by Lockheed Martin (LMT 2.56%), DSCA made clear that South Korea will not necessarily buy the F-15SEs, even if Congress approves the sale. Rather, South Korea is holding a competition to choose its next generation of fighter jets. Congressional preapproval of a sale would pave the way for Boeing's participation in this competition.

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