On 6 August, BAE Systems confirmed that an agreement was reached with South Korea to upgrade 130 of the Republic of Korea Air Force’s (ROKAF) F-16 fighter jets. The deal calls for an upgrade package that will include enhancements to the aircraft’s avionics and electronics. Although Seoul has not submitted a formal Letter of Request (LoR) yet, BAE expects the request to be delivered soon with BAE named as the sole source integration contractor.
The contract will be administered through the US Department of Defense (DoD) via the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Dave Herr, president of BAE Systems Support Solutions, is quoted as saying that this agreement “is a strategic international win for us, significantly expanding our aircraft upgrade and modification business” and emphasized that BAE Systems has “extensive capabilities that span across BAE Systems, and I am confident that our team offers the best value to the customer.” Vice President and General Manager of Support Solutions’ Aerospace Solutions branch, Gordon Eldridge, added that this contract is further evidence that BAE is the “leading provider of integration, avionics and mission computers for F-16s, and we will continue to offer our capability to customers across the globe.” The South Korean upgrade agreement calls for BAE to deliver a broad range of improvements to include software enhancements, electronics engineering, integration software, logistical support, and obsolescence management.
The bulk of the actual work is scheduled to be performed at BAE facilities located in Texas, Florida, and Georgia. BAE Systems currently services upgrades on 270 US Air National Guard F-16s and 50 Turkish Air Force Fighting Falcons. The Worldwide F-16 upgrade market is estimated to be valued at as much as $3 billion covering more than 3,000 aircraft.
Next on BAE’s agenda is locking-up a deal to provide an upgrade package for Taiwan’s 146 F-16A/B Block 20 aircraft, a contract worth $3.7 billion. BAE faces severe competition from Lockheed Martin for this deal. Lockheed is considered the front-runner given its long-term relationship with Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) and friendly association with the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF). Lockheed and the AIDC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) back on 11 July to establish a strategic partnership to give Lockheed an edge in the contract negotiations.