Make your own free website on Tripod.com


                                      

Iron Eagles
bullet

Iron Eagles Home

bullet

Western Block

bullet

Eastern Block

bullet

Indian Air Force

bullet

Red Star AF

bullet

Discussion Board

bullet

Humor (Jokes)

bullet

Site Search

bullet

Sign Guest Book

bullet

Get IE e-mail ID

bullet

E-mail Me

bullet

About Me

bullet

Site Statistics

Current Stats

Korean warplane deal: Russian hopes soar
By John Helmer

MOSCOW - The international battle to win a multibillion-dollar jet-fighter contract from South Korea's Defense Ministry has taken a new twist, as Seoul is considering a deal with Russia's arms exporter Rosoboronexport that would award a license for South Korea to assemble and produce the Sukhoi-35 fighter-bomber.

A Kremlin source told Asia Times Online that the multipurpose Sukhoi combat aircraft is being considered by Seoul in a competitive tender against rival bids from the US-made F-15 and the Rafale aircraft from France.

The tender is for purchase of 40 aircraft; the total order is estimated to be worth about US$4 billion. The United States, which traditionally has supplied 80-90 percent of South Korea's military arsenal, is anxious to win the order, and a series of officials and politicians - including President George W Bush himself - have been pressuring Seoul to buy the F-15. If the deal doesn't go through, the jet's manufacturer, Boeing, will be forced to close its F-15 assembly line in St Louis, analysts predict.

And, as Asia Times Online reported last month, there is more at stake for the United States than a lucrative contract for one of its top corporations. There is also the matter of its military strategy in Northeast Asia, in which South Korea plays a vital role. Said Philip Finnegan, an aerospace industry analyst at the Teal Group, a Virginia think tank: "The United States always stresses interoperability of Korean weapons systems with the needs of US troops."

But the South Korean Defense Ministry has been discussing a variety of Russian arms and aerospace offers since the visit to Seoul last February of President Vladimir Putin. Shortly after the visit, the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding that envisaged the supply of Russian aircraft worth an estimated $600 million to $800 million as partial repayment of Russia's multibillion-dollar debt to South Korea.

The terms of the tender bid in Seoul parallel an offer by Rosoboronexport of the Su-35 in a tender called by Brazil. The rivals in that contest include the French Mirage-2000/5. The Russians recently signed an agreement with a Brazilian aerospace company to build the Su-35, if it wins the tender.

The Malaysian government is also close to a decision on whether to buy the Sukhoi-30MKI. The aircraft was flown in demonstrations at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition in October. Also shown at the same time was the Mikoyan MiG-29. "The Malaysians have been offered their choice of the MiG-29 or the Su-30MKI. It's their choice to make," the Kremlin source said.

After several years of negotiations in the early 1990s, which saw intense rivalry from Washington for Malaysia to buy the F-18 Hornet, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad split his air-force acquisition into two, buying 18 Mikoyan MiG-29s and an equal number of Hornets. The Malaysian Air Force has been considering a follow-on order, and the Boeing-built F-18, in a modified form, is again competing against the Russians.

China's air force has already contracted to buy the Su-30MKK, which is equipped with Russian avionics. The Su-30MKI model to be offered to Malaysia is equipped with Israeli and French avionics, and is more suited to English-speaking pilots. This version of the aircraft has been licensed for manufacture and use in India.

Singapore is also reported by Russian sources to be considering the Su-30.

Russian military specialists say the Su-35 is growing more popular in Asia. The reason, they told Asia Times Online, is that the Su-35 has a longer operating radius than the Su-30 or its Western competitors; better maneuverability in flight; and larger ordnance capacity. According to one Russian source, "its technical characteristics are much better but the price is lower".
 

This site has been moved to www.WorldAviation.info but not in its current form. We are in process of erecting a brand new website with totally new structure. Hence, for information seekers, this site will remain as it is.