(2nd LD) Boeing's F-15SE reportedly chosen as final candidate for S. Korea's next fighter plane
(ATTN: ADDS more details, backgrounds in 5-7 paras, 9-11 paras; minor edits)
SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) - The Eurofighter Tranche 3 Typhoon by the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) has reportedly been eliminated from South Korea's multibillion-dollar fighter jet project, leaving Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle as the sole final candidate, government sources said Sunday.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said that one of the two finalists -- Boeing and EADS -- in the nation's 8.3 trillion won (US$7.2 billion) fighter project has dropped out of the bidding due to problems with their documents.
EADS is known as the company to have stepped out of the race, according to sources in Seoul.
"We disqualified the concerned company and will consider the remaining one firm as a candidate in the committee for defense procurement projects," the DAPA said in a release, citing "flaws found in the bidding documents" as reasons of the elimination.
Although the DAPA required the bidders to submit prices for 15 two-seater jets and 45 single-seat jets, EADS reduced the number of double-seater aircraft to six, and offered prices based on the British pound, according to a company official.
"We submitted the proposal to meet the budget because two-seater jets are more expensive than single-seat jets," the senior EADS official said. "Out of 54 jets, the proposal offers to assemble 53 aircraft in South Korea."
The DAPA will conduct an assessment on the jets and finally pick a winner in a committee meeting, which is to be presided over by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin in mid-September, according to officials.
The competition to win the South Korean project narrowed to a two-way race last week after the two aerospace firms offered their fighter jets for prices below the South Korea's state budget set at 8.3 trillion won. Another player, Lockheed Martin, submitted a price for its F-35 stealth, exceeding the state budget.
Seoul had initially picked a bidder last October with the goal of receiving the first delivery in December 2016, but it postponed the schedule to get the first batch in August 2017 to replace aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s in accordance with the delayed procedure.
Boeing has stressed the interoperability of the F-15 SE with other models purchased in the first two stages of the fighter modernization programs. Seoul has purchased 60 Boeing F-15 fighter jets since 2002.
It doesn't offer the same radar signature reduction as an F-35 and is only optimized for air-to-air combat stealth. What it does offer is greatly improved radar stealth over the F-15K and internal weapons.
- S. Korea's fighter jet project becomes two-way race 2013/08/16 16:47