Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Only Three Nations in the World Can Build a Modern Jet Fighter on Their Own

"Recently, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter once again shot down South Korea’s request to transfer four key technologies for that country’s KF-X “indigenous” fighter project. The United States’ refusal to transfer those technologies highlights a fundamental problem with developing a homegrown fighter—most nations don’t have the technology to develop a jet on their own.

The technologies Korea wanted include the know-how to develop an active electronically scanned array radar, cutting edge electronic warfare systems, an infrared search and track system and an electro-optical targeting system. The U.S. also refused to help South Korea with a sensor fusion engine to tie all of those systems together into a single coherent picture for the pilot—all the keys needed to develop a modern fighter. Nonetheless, the U.S. is willing to transfer twenty-one other less important but vital technologies needed to build the KF-X—it’s just unwilling to transfer the crown jewels of American technology to anyone. Indeed, much of the technology for the indigenous KF-X will come from the United States—including its General Electric F414 afterburning turbofan engines.

But depending on the United States can be a major drawback for many countries—especially if they want to incorporate technologies from third parties or export those platforms. Using American technology means that Washington gets a veto—which it exercises often. Indeed, both Israel and Korea have discovered that the hard way on several occasions.

But it’s not just the United States—using any foreign technology generally means that a third party has veto on sales or modifications. Saab discovered that the hard way when the United Kingdom vetoed a JAS-39 Gripen sale to Argentina because the jet uses British technology. Incidentally, since the Swedes use so much American technology in the JAS-39—the United States also has a veto on Gripen sales.

Generally speaking however, the United States is a lot stricter in terms of technology transfer than the French, British, other Europeans or Russians. But the United States also generally offers much better technology and far more comprehensive deals in terms of weapons and strategic partnerships. The price for that, of course, is sovereignty. And given Washington’s preeminent position on the world state, the United States usually gets what it wants.

If a nation does choose to develop an indigenous fighter with outside help from Russia, France or the other Europeans, that nation has to be aware that—like the United States—those powers are not going to share the crown jewels of their technology. While the French, Russians and rest of the Europeans are somewhat more generous in terms of technology transfer—they generally have to be in order to compete with the United States. But even then—Dassault, for example, will not just hand over the keys to the kingdom to India or anyone else..."

at http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/only-three-nations-world-can-build-modern-jet-fighter-their-own/ri10743

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