WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department has OK’d a package of potential sales for South Korea, including six P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft and 64 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles.
The P-8 deal has a potential price tag of $2.1 billion, while the Patriot weapons could cost $501 million, a $2.6 billion overall deal for American military contractors.
The potential sales were announced by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Sept. 13. All DSCA notifications are not final; if cleared by the Senate, procurement quantities and costs can still change in final negotiations.
If completed, the sales would boost South Korea’s military with capabilities aimed directly at Seoul’s two most-concerning neighbors: North Korea, always of concern, and China, which has been increasing its military submarine fleet.
Included in the P-8 package are nine Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio Systems; 42 AN/AAR-54 Missile Warning Sensors; and assorted engines, electro-optical acoustic systems, countermeasures and software.
“The ROK procured and has operated U.S.-produced P-3 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) for over 25 years, providing interoperability and critical capabilities to coalition maritime operations,” the DSCA wrote, using an acronym for South Korea’s official title Republic of Korea.
“The ROK has maintained a close MSA acquisition and sustainment relationship with the U.S. Navy over that period. The proposed sale will allow the ROK to modernize and sustain its MSA capability for the next 30 years. As a long-time P-3 operator, the ROK will have no difficulty transitioning its MSA force to P-8A.”
Primary work will be done by Boeing in Seattle, but the DSCA solicitation includes an unusually detailed breakdown of subtier suppliers. Listed by the agency are ASEC; Air Cruisers Co LLC; Arnprior Aerospace, Canada; AVOX Zodiac Aerospace; BAE Systems; Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC)/EMS; Compass; David Clark; DLS or ViaSat, Carlsbad, California; DRS; Exelis, McLean, Virginia; GC Micro, Petaluma, California; General Dynamics; General Electric, U.K.; Harris; Joint Electronics; Lockheed Martin; Martin Baker; Northrop Grumman Corp, Falls Church, Virginia; Pole Zero, Cincinnati, Ohio; Raytheon, Waltham, Massachusetts; Raytheon, U.K.; Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Spirit Aero, Wichita, Kansas; Symmetries Telephonics, Farmingdale, New York; Terma, Arlington, Virginia; Viking; and WESCAM.
As for the Patriot missiles, Lockheed Martin is the primary contractor.
“The ROK will use the Patriot missile system to improve its missile defense capability, defend its territorial integrity and deter threats to regional stability,” the DSCA notes. “The proposed sale will increase the defensive capabilities of the ROK Military to guard against hostile aggression and shield the allies who train and operate within South Korea's borders. The ROK should have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces.”
From fiscal years 2013-2017, South Korea purchased more than $13 billion in defense articles, training and services, per a DSCA fact sheet.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.