Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has reportedly been selected as the preferred bidder for the country’s domestic fighter jet development programme.
In a statement seen by Yonhap News Agency, the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said: "After reviewing their development plan, ability and bid price by the evaluation team comprised of government officials and experts, we’ve selected KAI as the preferred bidder.
"We will make a final selection after completing negotiations on details to launch the project in the first half of this year."
The Korean Fighter Experimental (KF-X) project is valued at KRW8.5trn ($7.64bn). It covers domestic development and production of approximately 120 fighter jets of the F-16 class.
The new fighter jets are scheduled to replace the Republic of Korea Air Force’s (ROKAF) aging fleet of F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II fighters.
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According to the news agency, the tender required participants to partner with a foreign technical assistance company, and KAI holds a technical edge over KAL due to its expertise in development of the T-50 Golden Eagle and the Surion utility helicopter.
Meanwhile, KAI told Reuters that it will pursue the KF-X programme leveraging experience gained from previous projects such as the T-50 light trainer jet.
The South Korean Government is set to fund 60% of the development costs, while the remaining 40% of funding is expected to be shared by the wining team and Indonesia, which is participating in the project as part of a bilateral defence treaty signed with the country, as reported by Agence-France Presse.
Image: A Republic of Korea Air Force F-4E fighter aircraft in flight. Photo: courtesy of MSgt Philip J Lewis, USAF.