United States To Transfer Fighter Jet Technologies to South Korea

John Kim, Dec. 9, 2015, 8:54 a.m.

The United States has approved the transfer of nearly two dozen technologies needed for South Korea's indigenous fighter jet program, although talks will continue over the details, defense officials here said Wednesday.

At the request of U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin, Washington approved the transfer of 21 technologies on Nov. 30 and the company informed Seoul of the decision the following day, according to South Korea's state arms procurement agency, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

Last week, a South Korean government delegation visited Washington for talks with Lockheed Martin amid reports that the U.S. was reluctant to transfer three of the 21 technologies. South Korea signed a contract with Lockheed Martin last year to buy 40 F-35s with the expectation of receiving 25 combat jet technologies, but the U.S. government decided earlier this year not to transfer four of those -- the active electronically scanned radar, infrared search-and-rescue system, electro-optical targeting pod and radio frequency jammer.

"Our delegation received a document that the U.S. side would execute the E/L (export license) issued to Lockheed Martin by the U.S. Department of Defense," a senior DAPA official told reporters in a briefing held at Seoul's Defense Ministry. The document had six signatories, including Lockheed Martin, DAPA, and the South Korean Air Force.

South Korea is set to launch the program, codenamed KF-X, following last week's talks. However, the two sides will continue to discuss the details of the technologies over the course of the US$15-billion project, according to ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok. In January, South Korea plans to submit the relevant material to the U.S.

"We agreed with the U.S. side under a broad framework to receive 21 technologies," he said. "This was put on paper." The U.S. also reaffirmed its intention to provide as much support as possible, the spokesman added.

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