November 11, 2013 09:31
Lockheed Martin's F-35 is emerging as the sole qualified candidate as Korea's search for a new-generation fighter jet starts all over again.
The Defense Ministry in September decided against Boeing's F-15SE because of its unsatisfactory stealth capability.
The next-generation fighter project is worth W8.3 trillion (US$1=W1,065).
"The Air Force has recently revised requirements for the F-X project and recommended them to the Joint Chiefs of Staff," a government source said. "The Air Force set more stringent requirements for the stealth capability and electronics like the radar cross-section," a measure of how detectable an object is with radar.
That would also rule out EADS' Eurofighter Typhoon, the third in the previous round, because it fails to meet these requirements.
The ministry is expected to discuss the Air Force's recommendation at a meeting of Joint Chiefs of Staff commanders. Early next month, it will then submit the recommendation to a committee chaired by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin to sign a straightforward contract for the F-35 rather than putting the project out to tender again.
But some military leaders are worried because there is no precedent for a contract without tender for a huge arms procurement project worth more than W8 trillion. They are also concerned about delays because the F-35 is still not fully developed. Some are suggesting buying a mix of 40 F-35s and 20 improved F-15s or Typhoons.
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