Lockheed Martin on Wednesday promised that if the Korean government decides to buy its F-35A fighter jets, it will ensure that no repairs are done in Japan or the U.S. It also offered to hand over information on related fighter jet programs in a technology transfer under the deal.
The U.S. aircraft maker made the pledges at a press conference with Korean journalists in Washington. It apparently volunteered to hold the press conference as a way of quelling mounting criticism over the purchase sparked by the high price tag and the firm’s apparent reluctance to share technology.
If Korea decides to buy 40 F-35A fighter jets, the aircraft would be exported as finished products manufactured at the Texas plant, according to David Scott, a vice president at the firm.
Scott said the fighter planes would not leave Korea for repairs or maintenance.
There were concerns that F-35As might be sent for repairs to Japan, which is buying them for assembly at home.
Scott also said his company "has made a comprehensive offer through our offset program for the KF-X, which would be assistance through technology transfer and engineering expertise that we would place in Korea to help design and develop" its own high tech-fighter jet.
He added that the terms Korea would be signing are similar to those with Israel and Japan. But experts believe Korean F-35A jets would have to be taken to the U.S. for repairs since they contain sensitive military technologies and Washington keeps close tabs on the transfer of stealth and other secret military technology.
Scott said the price tag of the aircraft "continues to decrease," suggesting the actual purchase price can be lowered depending on when the Korean government wants the aircraft delivered.