ADEX 2019: Lockheed Martin progresses F-35 offset projects in South Korea

17 October 2019

South Korean industry is advancing capability through its involvement in offsets and collaboration projects linked to the country’s acquisition of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft. Source: Lockheed Martin

Key Points

  • US corporation engages with local industry on KFX technology transfers
  • South Korean firms also expanding involvement in F-35 component sustainment

Lockheed Martin is in the process of fulfilling its expansive defence offset obligations linked to the US government's sale of F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft to the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF).

Steve Over, director of F-35 international business development at Lockheed Martin, told Jane's on 17 October that offset projects to provide a military communications satellite solution and technology transfers to support the development of South Korea's next-generation KFX fighter aircraft are currently under way. South Korea agreed to procure 40 F-35s in September 2014 for about USD7 billion.

Speaking at the 2019 Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX), Over said that the RoKAF's F-35 procurement programme "had very specific [offset] requirements, resulting in a couple of rather large projects for us in Korea".

He added, "A military communications satellite was one of their requirements…. We [also] had a requirement to satisfy some amount of technology transfers associated with KFX, which we are in the process of fulfilling right now. That work is progressing well."

Over confirmed that in supporting the technology transfers Lockheed Martin is collaborating with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the prime contractor on the KFX.

Jane's has previously reported that South Korea's offset requirement on the F-35 programme included the provision of a military communications satellite, which will be fully owned and operated by the government. Offset covers the provision of the satellite, launching, orbit positioning, and technical training to operate the satellite.

In addition, the United States has granted approvals to support Lockheed Martin's transfer to South Korea of 21 technology suites to support the KFX. These suites include flight control technologies, avionics, system integration, materials, and unspecified weaponry.

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