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December 16, 2015

South Korea selects Lockheed Martin for $1.5bn F-16 upgrade

South Korea has selected Lockheed Martin for a KRW1.8tn ($1.5bn) project to upgrade the KF-16 fighter jets.

By Prasanth Katam

South Korea has selected Lockheed Martin for a KRW1.8tn ($1.5bn) project to upgrade the KF-16 fighter jets.

Lockheed will modernise the fleet of 134 KF-16s with radar, armament and integrated electronic systems.

The project, which was originally contracted to BAE Systems in 2012, was put on hold after the company sought additional funds.

South Korea has also replaced Raytheon with Northrop Grumman to supply active electronically scanned radar (AESA) for the fighter jet.

"After the upgrade, the KF-16s will be capable of carrying out network-centric warfare and operating cutting-edge weapons systems as the Air Force’s main fighter jet."

Defense Acquisition Program Administration spokesperson Kim Si-cheol was quoted by The Korea Herald as saying: "Lockheed Martin makes the F-16 platform and thus has much know-how and competence on how to embody the aircraft’s capabilities.

"After the upgrade, the KF-16s will be capable of carrying out network-centric warfare and operating cutting-edge weapons systems as the Air Force’s main fighter jet."

The first upgraded K-16 is expected to be received in 2018. Lockheed obtained the contract months after the US Department of State cleared the upgrade of South Korea’s F-16s.

South Korea placed a request with the US for 150 Modular Mission Computers (MMC 7000AH), 150 AESA, 150 AN/APX-125 or equivalent Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) Systems, among others.

Originally manufactured by General Dynamics (GD), the F-16 became a part of Lockheed Martin when it acquired the aircraft manufacturing business of GD.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a 4th Generation single-engine multi-role fighter, serving the fleets of 28 countries.

Earlier this month, the company received a $914m contract to upgrade Singapore’s fleet of F-16 aircraft.

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