May 30, 2013 defense-aerospace.com
(Source: The Korea Times; published May 30, 2013)
Bidding for $7.5 Bil. Fighter Program Set to Start
The bidding process for the $7.5 billion next-generation fighter procurement project will kick off at the start of June instead of midway through the month, the Defense Acquisition and Procurement Agency (DAPA) said Thursday.
“We plan to let bidders tender offers about a week earlier,” a DAPA official said.
The change in schedule aims at purchasing a high-end fleet of 60 multi-role fighter jets within budget constraints.
In order to replace Korean Air Force’s aging F-4s and F-5s with high-tech combat aircraft, Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS)’s Eurofighter Tranche 3 are competing to secure the contract.
There is speculation that the bid price will go beyond DAPA’s budget and so the accelerated schedule will enable the procurement office to purchase the aircraft at reasonable price without a hitch.
“Our first goal is to buy 60 fighter jets within the budget. As we are scheduled to make the final selection by the end of June, we may not have enough time for negotiations if we start receiving offers from mid-June,” the official said.
“In addition, an earlier schedule will quiet criticism on the most-expensive procurement deal in our history.”
He added that DAPA had already informed the bidders of the schedule change.
The DAPA official also said that those involved in negotiations may not be able to make a decision on some clauses and will need to consult with head office, which will take time.
In order to secure the sale of 60 fighter jets, the three defense firms are throwing around “sweet deals” if they win the contract.
Eurofighter said that it will investment 2 trillion won in Korea’s indigenous fighter program, or the KF-X program, while Lockheed Martin said it will help Korea Aerospace Industries’ (KAI) T-50 be selected for the U.S. Air Force’s trainer procurement project.
Boeing promised to establish an avionics maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Yeongcheon, North Gyeongsang Province, which will be its first such facility in Asia.