Taiwanese F-16s on Standby at Hualien (Source: Airliners.net)

Taiwanese F-16s on Standby at Hualien (Source: Airliners.net)

BAE has been popping up on my radar at lot these days and they continue to gain more and more sway in traditionally US-dominated areas. Now Defense News reports that they’ll be locking horns directly with Lockheed Martin in East Asia over F-16 upgrades:

SEOUL and TAIPEI — BAE Systems is positioning to challenge Lockheed Martin’s traditional role as the F-16’s sole upgrade provider, and Lockheed is scrambling to meet the challenge in South Korea and Taiwan before BAE builds momentum.

BAE has been slowly moving in on Lockheed’s F-16 upgrade territory. The London-based company is upgrading F-16s for the Turkish Air Force, and the U.S. Air National Guard has approximately 270 F-16s in service that have been upgraded with BAE’s fire control system and advanced Ethernet interface, said Tony Ennis, BAE’s head of Northeast Asia.

“Our comprehensive upgrade solution is based on upgrades we have accomplished on the U.S. Air National Guard which are operational on over 300 U.S Air National Guard F-16s,” Ennis said.

“I think you’ll see more of this as the U.S. market shrinks for new platforms and the U.S. and other countries extend the lifespan of aircraft already in inventory,” said Joel Johnson, international executive director, the Teal Group, Fairfax, Va.

“Bottom line is, I would anticipate primes competing against original primes across the board for upgrades to older platforms. Certainly, a win on one such platform would give a company experience and economies that would help it compete for similar work on similar platforms.”

Lockheed could lose as much as $6 billion if both Seoul and Taipei go with BAE. South Korea is offering a $1.6 billion tender to upgrade 134 KF-16 fighters; Taiwan’s tender is $4 billion to $5 billion for 146 F-16C/D Block 20 fighters. If victorious in South Korea and Taiwan, BAE then would target Singapore for an upgrade to its fleet of more than 70 F-16C/D Block 52 fighters. (Read more here)


If Lockheed Martin manages to lose their F-35 deal with Japan over inflating costs, their bid to win the South Korean FX-III fighter program contract over carelessness, and this new potential loss of F-16 upgrades in Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, Lockheed’s standing in Asia would be quite dire indeed.

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Craig was born & raised in the United States, having recently returned there after over five years in Asia. He is currently pursuing further education in the realms of East Asian Studies and Politics. Craig is an avid fan of the political, economic, and military machinations occurring throughout the Asian continent and how those turning gears affect the rest of the world. He's currently covering both North and South Korea for Asia Security Watch, enjoying shedding light on to this far-too-often ignored slice of Asia.
Craig Scanlan has 82 post(s) on Asia Security Watch