Boeing confirms it remains interested in South Korea’s KF-X fighter program but declines to say directly whether it is considering a development based on its Advanced Super Hornet, as reported by Aviation Week.

“Boeing looks forward to understanding the Republic of Korea’s plans regarding how and when they intend to implement the program,” says a spokeswoman for the company.  “If we decide to formally participate, we will consider our entire portfolio of strike fighter capabilities.”

Although South Korea has been planning to develop the indigenous fighter with help from Lockheed Martin, with Korea Aerospace Industries as the presumed prime contractor, industry officials tell Aviation Week that Korean Airlines is working with Boeing to offer an alternative. Boeing’s offer is the Advanced Super Hornet, say other industry officials. The company’s other conceivable offering is the F-15, which is partly built in South Korea, but it is further from the technical level of a new aircraft than is the Super Hornet and was rejected in the F-X Phase 3 competition last year. 

The moves by Korean Airlines and Boeing coincide with the refusal of the South Korean parliament this month to fund full-scale development of the KF-X in 2015. 

The clear advantage of downgrading the program to a development of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is that money would be saved. 

The disadvantage is that South Korean industry could not learn as much as it would if it tried to develop a fighter from scratch.

Having won the separate F-X Phase 3 competition for imported fighters last year with the F-35 Lightning, Lockheed Martin has been expected to support KF-X development.