I want to share some good news with my readers.
Two weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Richard Bitzinger of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, a graduate school of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, inviting me as a panelist to present on the ROK’s (Republic of Korea’s) air power trends for their their Asia Pacific Security Forum (APSEC) in February, 2014. My guess is that they invited me because of my RealClearDefense article on South Korea’s Stealth Fighter program back in August wherein I cited one of their faculty members, Michael Raska, as one of my sources.
The timing could not have been more appropriate. After facing a vociferous opposition from ROK Air Force’s former chiefs of staff who seemed mindful of the region-wide stealth race in East Asia, the ROK government delayed its KFX (Korea Fighter eXperimental) program by voting down the F-15SEs “due to lack of its radar-evading functions.”
Despite much lower unit costs offered by Lockheed Martin for its F-35As, it remains yet to be seen whether the ROK Air Force will opt to purchase 60 F-35As, or instead, choose to purchase a mix of F-15SEs along with the F-35As as suggested by the former US Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Ronald Fogleman.
In any event, for the upcoming conference, I am thinking to discuss the following topics: a) a very brief history of ROK air power; b) recent stealth acquisition attempts through its KFX program; c) potential deployment of UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles) and d) naval aviation–in particular, the carrier programs and S-3 Viking acquisition. However, if any of my readers have other pieces of advice, I am willing to take them into consideration.
So there you have it. I ask that wish me luck since this will be my first opportunity as a panelist/presenter for a prestigious security forum such as the one hosted by RSIS.
— Jeong Lee