South Korea's plan to purchase 40 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters could have a positive impact on the cost of the overall program for the U.S., according to a recent Reuters article. Along with driving down the per-plane cost of the program, which could save the U.S. military $2 billion, South Korea's order could also impact jobs, creating 10,000 positions in the U.S. needed to carry out the purchase.
According to Reuters:
South Korea's plan to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets will save the U.S. military about $2 billion by driving down the per-plane price of the new plane, and could create up to 10,000 U.S. jobs, according to sources familiar with the program.
Seoul's decision will also help to offset any move by the U.S. Air Force and Navy to deal with mandatory budget cuts by postponing orders for up to 54 jets over the next five years, according to analysts. Seoul's decision must still be approved by a committee chaired by its defense minister.
Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute, said the South Korean news would provide a significant boost to the F-35 program.
"The sale of F-35s to Japan and South Korea - America's two leading industrial allies in northeast Asia means the F-35 is now becoming the gold standard for tactical aircraft across the western Pacific," he said.
By 2019, the Pentagon projects the cost of each new F-35 fighter plane will be around $85 million, putting it on a par with the cost of current fighter planes, said Jim McAleese, a Virginia-based defense consultant.
The South Korean order could create 10,000 jobs at Lockheed and its suppliers as they build the components to make the 40 jets.