After India’s planned procurement of 126 multi-purpose fighter aircraft, South Korea is also planning to invest some $2.4 billion to introduce 20 ‘next generation’ fighters. These aircraft are planned for introduction into service by 2010 – 2012, therefore ruling out the Lockheed Martin’s F-35 model. Korea is planning to purchase up to 120 next-generation fighter jets, as part of the planned air-force modernization, drastically increasing combat capability by 2020. A request for proposal is expected by Defense Acquisition Program Administration in March 2007, followed by a selection and contract within a year.
Korean sources indicated that the country aims for a twin-engine fighter, thus making the F-15K option most likely. In 2002, Korea selected the F-15K out of four candidates, including Rafale, Typhoon and Su-35. Seoul is fielding the first F-15K squadron with the delivery of 18 of the 40 aircraft ordered from Boeing under the current $4.6 billion program.