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Why Boeing did not deserve fighter jet contract

Lee Tae-hoon
Written by Lee Tae-hoon


Boeing is the only company I know of as a former defense correspondent that offered journalists free business-class plane tickets and free passes to a luxurious strip club in the United States.

The U.S. aerospace giant was also the only company that warned me not to publish articles such as Boeing’s F-15K jets fly blind to enemy attack and Boeing backtracks on stealthy jet offer.

I still vividly recall a reporter and good friend of mine, pleading me to go back to our fancy Boeing-sponsored hotel rooms in Mesa, Arizona, when we were brought to a cabaret with topless girls.

A defense industry source once told me that the lavish provision of sexual entertainment along with free food, booze, hotels and flights to journalists was a key factor in Boeing’s winning Korea’s two previous fighter-jet acquisition programs.

Besides all these unethical business practices, there are plenty of other reasons to eliminate Boeing from the FX-III competition, under which Korea planned to acquire 60 advanced fighter aircraft with a budget of 8.3 trillion won ($7.5 billion).

First, it lied to the Korean people that it would offer them stealth technology. Boeing pledged to provide a list of stealth technologies when it successfully sold its 60 F-15Ks to Korea but has yet to fulfill its promises.

Second, it lied to us in saying it would undertake a major retrofit of its F-15 fighter jets to improve the effectiveness of their radar counter-measures.

An industry source said hardly any progress had been made in the making of the F-15 Silent Eagle, an upgraded version of the F-15 offered with the FX-III, especially in the development of its conformal weapons bay (CWB) and canted vertical tails.

A senior official at Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), which has been carrying out research and development of the F-15 SE’s internal weapons bay, told me last year that “only 10 percent of the work for the research and development of the F-15SE’s conformal weapons bay has been completed.”

KAI signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Boeing in 2010 for the production of the F-15SE’s conformal weapons bays.

Boeing would have had a better chance of winning the FX-III if it were a little more honest in explaining the limitations of its fourth-generation F-15s, rather than trying to conceal some unfavorable facts.

“Over my dead body,” a top Korean Air Force official in charge of maintenance of fighter jets said when asked his opinion of the introduction of the F-15SE.

He said Korea had wasted enough money and learned a lesson from the FX-I and FX-II that any upgrade offered exclusively to Korea would result in nightmares for maintenance personnel.

Boeing should think twice before complaining and even filing a lawsuit against the Korean government over the latest decision to reject its F-15, which was rolled out in 1972 and became the only candidate in the FX-III race.

About the author

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon is publisher at The Korea Observer. He previously worked for the Korea Times and Arirang TV. You can reach him at

  • Concerned Citizen

    And Lockheed Martin the king of bribery, the only company that has bribed Air Force chiefs, is any better? Especially the same Lockheed Martin that hires lying scums like Shin In Gyun to launch a false negative campaign against the Silent Eagle in the media that eventually contributed to the disastrous outcome? Shame on you for being half blind to the truth. Ask local aerospace defense contractors around, Boeing was the best partner to do business with and their business plans and the KFX are now all screwed because of the Silent Eagle rejection.

  • Concerned Citizen

    The second thing is that the F-35 cannot fundamentally survive against the likes of China’s 100 Su-35s, much less the full stealth J-20, and now China holds an absolute advantage over the ROKAF now has not a single A2A jet to counter the Su-35, which has demonstrated simulation after simulation that it could wipe out the F-35 in all out war. It is now Korea’s fate to be obedient to China and not raise any military confrontations. Only the Silent Eagle with its stealth-defeating 250 km range AN/APG-82 could have engaged and defeated China’s Su-35 and J-20, but that’s all gone now and Korea has no independent A2A force of its own and must wait for the arrival of USAF F-22s and F-15C Golden Eagles before attacking North Korea via the Yellow Sea route which will be defended by the PLAAF.

    Of course, you being such an ignorant educated journalist wouldn’t’ know the tactical implication of the jet type and write up a something like this.

    All hail Lockheed Martin, the only defense contractor to have bribed the Prime Minister of Japan and several Air Force Chiefs of Korea! At least I won’t blame Lockheed for bribing the Korean president because that was done by General Dynamics.

    • Blur

      China doesn’t have Su-35s.

  • Dorky

    졸려 슨상님 여기서 이러시면 안됩니다

  • Dorky

    졸려 슨상님 Aviation Week의 3차 F-X 댓글란에서도 뻥치시더니 여기서도 외국인들 상대로 언플하니 살림살이 좀 나아지셨ㅅ… 아 알바비 받았으니까 생활은 나아지셨겠네요. ^^

  • LustyMech

    Concerned Citizen, Where’s the evidence? Prove yourself, you scumbag.

  • Concerned Citizen


    My proof is this.

    The biggest losers of the rejection of the Silent Eagle are Korean aerospace contractors, because they are deeply integrated into Boeing’s supply chain.

    As you maybe aware, these contractors already rejected Lockheed Martin’s “voluntary” industrial participation offer because it doesn’t make financial sense with a heavy upfront investment of their own for supplying only 60 jets(Now down to 40), and they now face the prospect of going out of business unless the KFX program can be restarted immediately to replace billions of dollars of lost revenue from Boeing’s offset program.

    • LustyMech

      Downfall of Boeing’s stock will not devastate Korean Defense Industry, Jackass

      • Concerned Citizen


        Of course Boeing’s stock won’t, but KAI, TECHWIN, and Huneed’s stock collapses do, as investors shy away from Korean aerospace contractors as the result of Boeing’s defeat. Lockheed brings almost no new contracts to local aerospace contractors.

        • LustyMech

          7 year old kid like Boeing would not determine Korean Defense Industry’s future and Investment?
          Yup, Boeing rules. all hail the Boeing!

          • Concerned Citizen


            I hope you brush up your English skills before returning. Yours and the reporter’s English suck bigtime. Having said that Boeing will be fine from this outcome, Boeing’s Korean sub suppliers won’t be.

  • LustyMech

    Does anyone guarantee that the approval of FX-III for Boeing will lead to Korean Defense Industry? Or is it you to say so? You’re just fucking troller.

    • Concerned Citizen

      I don’t quite understand your broken English. Speak English, damn it!

  • N/MD

    KAI and Samsung Techwin can’t be collapsed. cuz KAI’s majority shareholder is korean goverment, and Samsung Techwin is subsidiary company of Samsung Group. is Boeing can be bigger then these two? I doubt it.

  • N/MD

    *bigger than

  • Concerned Citizen

    Anyhow, an impartial and objective reporter would do a special report on the long and colorful history of Lockheed Martin’s bribery scandal, whose scope and epic scale can’t be possibly be compared to Boeing’s. In case the reporter doesn’t know, I would be happy to provide a reference at

    Of course Lockheed is not free from bribery in Korea either, including the convicted former agent as the ringleader of the so called “15 retired Air Force chiefs demanding F-35 selection”. The very notion that this reporter would question the ethics of Boeing shows how clueless the reporter is about the long, colorful history of Lockheed Martin, probably the most corrupt defense contractor in Korea’s history.

  • Dorky

    It would be appreciated to hear your clarification over this statement, Mr. 졸려(SlowMan, Concerned Citizen, TTT).

    I can understand how strongly you have been devoted to Boeing Corporation’s business, but it would become a bigger problem if you leave your tail like this time. Again, I strongly think such fabrication of public opinion by wrapping yourself as a ‘concerned citizen’ is inappropriate for this website.

    Cut the crap, Mr. 졸려. 알바질 좀 작작해라 이새끼야.

    Thank you.

  • Dorky

    Mr. 졸려, I would like to let you know that I’ve sent a message to Mr. Shin for letting him know about your argument about his employment and such activities with Lockheed Martin Corp. If you cannot clarify his ‘media campaign with LM’, oh boy, you are in a serious trouble.

    Get ready for the lawsuit with your lawyer, Mr. 졸려.

  • trippin

    No matter how concerend citizen is concerend, F-15 is out. Get the fuck out of this country.

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