Boeing and EADS are competing for South Korea’s F-X III fighter contract after submitting proposals below the programme’s estimated budget, unnamed government and industry officials have revealed.
The officials were quoted by Yonhap News Agency as saying that the third bidder, Lockheed Martin, had proposed a higher price than the country’s estimated KRW8.3tn ($7.43bn) budget, and was eliminated from the competition.
The country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) also confirmed that the bidding process has ended and at least one proposal came in under its budgeted figure.
Speaking during a press briefing, DAPA spokesman Baek Yoon-hyung said that the organisation will now proceed to the aircraft evaluation phase after receiving proposals within its required price.
Without disclosing the number or names of companies, Yoon-hyung noted, "Although all jets will be evaluated, aircraft exceeding the budget will not be qualified for the contract."
After evaluation is complete, DAPA’s decision-making committee is scheduled to meet for winner’s selection as early as next month.
Boeing is proposing its F-15 Silent Eagle, while Lockheed and EADS have offered F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) and the Tranche 3 Typhoon for the competition, which has been constantly delayed due to pricing issues.
Considered to be the world’s biggest fighter procurement this year, the F-X III programme seeks acquisition of 60 advanced aircraft for replacement of the Republic of Korea Air Force’s (ROKAF) ageing F-4 and F-5 fighter aircraft fleet.
Meanwhile, Lockheed has announced plans to continue negotiations with the US government on the competition, insisting that it has not received an official notification from the South Korean government regarding the results of the price bidding, Reuters reports citing a company’s statement.
"The F-X source selection process has multiple phases and we will continue to work closely with the US government as they offer the F-35 to Korea," the statement added.