South Korea selected BAE Systems as prime integrator to upgrade its older fleet of KF-16 fighter aircraft over the next decade, the country's arms procurement agency said July 31. Here, the South Korean Airforce F16 team flies in formation during the Seoul Airshow and Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition in October 2009 at the Sungnam military air base in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun / Getty)
SEOUL — South Korea selected BAE Systems’ North American subsidiary as prime integrator to upgrade its older fleet of KF-16 fighter aircraft over the next decade, the country’s arms procurement agency said July 31.
BAE beat Lockheed Martin to win the deal, worth about 1.3 trillion ($1.1 billion), according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). The contract was awarded under a Foreign Military Sales deal.
Under the deal, BAE will oversee installation of new software and hardware components, including the F-16 commercial fire control computer and the plane’s active electronically scanned radar, the agency said. A total of 134 KF-16 jets are subject to the upgrade project.
Other key upgrades include installing the Link-16 data exchange system and the multifunction display, and equipping GPS-guided weapons, such as the AIM-120C air-to-air missile and the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser.
“A final contract is expected to be signed in December after reviewing the Letter of Offer and Acceptance from the U.S. government,” DAPA spokesman Baek Youn-hyung said.
“The selection of a prime integrator was made based on thorough evaluations of candidate firms’ proposals, including performances, cost-efficiency and offset programs,” said the spokesman.
The DAPA will open a separate bid to choose a supplier of the active electronically scanned array radar early next year, he added. Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are vying for the radar deal.
“Once the upgrade program is completed, the KF-16 will have a detection range at least two times longer than now and be able to detect and track multiple targets simultaneously,” an Air Force officer said. “The upgrade package will also allow the aircraft to hit key facilities in the enemy zone at longer range.”
BAE officials said their KF-16 upgrade package will also allow the South Korean Air Force to share source codes more easily for F-16 flight control and weapon control operational flight programs.
The KF-16 is a Korean version of the F-16 built locally under license from Lockheed Martin in the 1990s.
The aircraft is a key part of the South Korean fighter fleet that includes 60 F-15K jets built by Boeing. South Korea plans to introduce 60 more fighter jets equipped with stealth functions under the F-X III competition.