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S. Korea to invite bidders to buy precision missiles for F-15K fighters
SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's arms procurement agency said Wednesday that it will open a bid next month to purchase radar-evading cruise missiles for its F-15K fighter jets.

   South Korea's Air Force has sought for years to equip its F-15K fighters with precision cruise missiles capable of striking key nuclear facilities in North Korea in case of contingency.

   Seoul had originally planned to buy Lockheed Martin's Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) from the U.S. defense contractor, but the plan was delayed by alleged technical glitches, according to officials at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

   With prospects for the planned purchase of JASSM dimming, South Korea decided to buy an unspecified number of "JASSM-level" missiles, a DAPA official said.

   "A bid to buy JASSM-level missiles will be opened in June," the official said on the condition of anonymity.

   The move was approved by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin earlier in the day, the official said, declining to give details such as how many missiles it wants to buy.

   JASSM is a satellite-guided cruise missile that weapons experts say can fly up to 400 kilometers and destroy both fixed and moving targets.

   South Korea is pushing to upgrade its Air Force to cope with growing military threats from North Korea, especially after two deadly cross-border provocations last year that resulted in 50 people, including two civilians, being killed.

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