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People's Daily Online

S. Korea picks preferred bidder for 16-bln-USD fighter jet project

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 16:51, March 30, 2015

SEOUL, March 30 -- South Korea's arms procurement agency said Monday that it has picked the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) Ltd, the country's sole aircraft maker, as the preferred bidder for the largest indigenous fighter jet development project worth about 16 billion U.S. dollars.

Codenamed KF-X, the project will spend 8.8 trillion won (8 billion U.S. dollars) on developing the 3.5th-generation fighter jets based on indigenous technology, and an estimated 9.6 trillion won (8.6 billion U.S. dollars) on mass-producing the developed warplanes, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

The DAPA plans to select the final contractor after 2-3 months of negotiations. The indigenous fighter jets will be developed by the end of 2025, with the aim of deploying the developed jets by 2032.

The project, which was proposed in 2002, aimed to deploy about 120 K-16 class fighter jets with upgraded radar and electronic devices, to replace the aging fleets of F-4 and F-5.

For the bid, the KAI teamed up with the U.S.-based Lockheed Martin, the developer of the fifth-generation stealth fighter F-35 that reportedly promised to provide the KAI with a broad range of technology needed to develop the new fighter jets.

The KAI has many experiences of developing indigenous aircrafts, including the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic jet trainer, the FA-50 light attack aircraft and the indigenous helicopter called Surion.

Meanwhile, the South Korean military decided to spend 1.3 trillion won on purchasing PAC-3 interceptors by 2020 through the foreign military sale (FMS) program of the United States. The PAC- 3 was also developed by Lockheed Martin.

The purchase was aimed at upgrading the current PAC-2 missile defense system and intercepting ballistic missiles at an altitude of less than 40 km.

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