U.S. approves request for chase flights

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U.S. approves request for chase flights

The U.S. government has approved Korea’s request to perform chase flights and use a wireless data transfer system to test Lockheed Martin’s F-35A, one of three fighter jets bidding for a multibillion-dollar project, a senior Seoul official said yesterday.

American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is competing with fellow U.S. firm Boeing and Europe-based multinational defense group EADS to win the state-funded fighter jet deal worth upward of 8.3 trillion won ($7.3 billion).

Korea plans to purchase 60 fighter jets by 2021 to replace the Air Force’s aging fleet.

The Korean Air Force has asked the bidders if its pilots can conduct telemetry and pursuit flight tests to measure the function of each model.

Boeing and EADS gave permission for Korean pilots to test the planes, but Lockheed Martin had been reluctant to give the green light.

Ahead of a test slated for early next month in its homeland, the U.S. Department of Defense has sent a letter allowing Korean test pilots to use the testing methods, a senior military official said.

“This letter serves as confirmation of our discussions outlining my decision to grant seven chase flights with ROK Air Force test pilots,” the Pentagon letter read, using an abbreviation referring to South Korea.

“The F-35 JPA will meet your need for telemetry through material derived from the actual telemetry and flight sciences data test for the F-35.”

Telemetry is a technology that allows data measurements to be made at a distance, using a wireless data transfer system.

The testing team has just completed two weeks of tests on Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle in the U.S., while evaluations of Lockheed’s F-35A and EADS’ Eurofighter are scheduled for next month, according to the state-run Defense Acquisition Program Administration.

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