KAI selected bidder in KF-X project

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KAI selected bidder in KF-X project

The procurement authority on Monday selected the state-funded Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) as its preferred bidder for the country’s largest-ever military project to develop new mid-level fighter jets.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said the decision was made during a review committee chaired by Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo. Both the state-funded KAI and Korean Air Lines, the country’s largest commercial airliner, were competing for the project.

“We made the decision based on the two companies’ development plans, abilities and bidding prices,” the procurement authority said. “After the evaluation, KAI was selected as the preferred bidder for the project.”

DAPA said it will conduct negotiations with KAI on the details and make a final decision, with the aim being to launch the project within the first half of this year.

First announced in 2001, the KF-X project was initiated to produce new multirole fighters with more advanced capabilities than the U.S.-built F-16s. The new combat aircraft will be known as 4.5-generation fighter jets, while the 40 F-35 stealth fighter jets that Korea has decided to purchase are considered fifth generation.

The government will invest a total of 18.1 trillion won ($16.9 billion), including 8.5 trillion won for development in the KF-X project, the largest procurement plan in Korea’s history.

Through the project, 120 jets are to be built by 2025. KAI has signed a memorandum of understanding for the KF-X program with American defense company Lockheed Martin, which was selected to provide F-35s under the previous F-X project, for technology transfer and investment.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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