An F-16 fighter jet from the South Korean Air Force flies over Seoul Air Base in September. (AFP/Getty Images)
Farnborough International Airshow
FARNBOROUGH, ENGLAND — After breaking Lockheed Martin’s monopoly on F-16 upgrade work with a contract in South Korea, BAE Systems is now aiming to capture more than half of what it believes is a $10 billion market in upgrades on the fighter over the next decade.
“We see this as a $5 billion market in the next five years, and a $10 billion market over the next 10 years, involving 1,000 to 1,300 planes — and we are aiming for a majority of that,” said John Bean, vice president and general manager for BAE’s global fighter program. The fighters with 25 years of flying left in them would be contenders for upgrades, he added.
BAE first broke Lockheed Martin’s grip on F-16 upgrades in 2012, when it was selected by South Korea to upgrade the mission avionics and weapons capabilities on its F-16s. BAE will also install the Raytheon advanced combat radar.
Bean, who was speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow, said a test bed aircraft would start flights in 2016 and aircraft would be delivered to Korea in 2018.
“Korea was the first country to run an open competition for this work. It changed the landscape and is the first of a lot more to come,” said Bean, who formally ran the F-16 program for Lockheed Martin — the original equipment manufacturer of the aircraft — between 2000 and 2004, then joined BAE just over a year ago.
Bean listed Singapore, Greece, Turkey and Chile as interested in the BAE offer, with Greece set to issue to a request for proposal by the end of the year.
Bean said BAE was able to obtain all the data it needed to work on the F-16 from the US government. “The F-16 was a very competitive product,” he said, “but the industry is now overconsolidated. BAE saw an unmet need for competition.” ■