SEOUL - Despite skepticism over the F-15 Silent Eagle's sustainability and survivability in the future combat environment, Boeing still has an optimistic prospect in South Korea's high-profile fighter procurement project.
Based on its mature platform and the blend of capabilities proven through battle experiences, a senior Boeing official expressed confidence that the F-15 SE remains a strong competitor for the multibillion-dollar project.
"When you look, in aggregate, at the mission requirements this aircraft has to fulfil, we bring with our aircraft along with our systems the best blend of capabilities to do the entire spectrum of the Korean operational mix for requirements," Howard Berry, vice president of sales global strike defence, space and security, told The Korea Herald.
"Boeing will promise to the Korean government a fully combat-capable aircraft from the day its wheels are on the ground in Korea in 2017. I would challenge my competitor to honestly make that same statement."
The F-15 SE was the sole final candidate for the project as the others -- Lockheed Martin's F-35A and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company's Eurofighter Typhoon -- failed to fit the 8.3 trillion won (S$9.66 billion) budget.
But Seoul's defence decision-making body rejected it in September as criticism surged that the government short-listed the oldest platform, first produced four decades ago, because of the price, not the capabilities and broader strategic interests.
Seoul has decided to restart the project with various options in mind, including increasing the budget and purchasing a mix of fighter jets rather than only from one company.
Berry, who was visiting the Seoul International Aerospace & Defence Exhibition at KINTEX in Ilsan, Goyang City, expressed hopes for a decision to purchase a blend of fighters.