Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has been selected as the preferred bidder in South Korea’s proposed KFX fighter programme to build an indigenous fighter.
In an email to Flightglobal, KAI confirmed that Seoul’s Defense Acquisition Procurement Agency (DAPA) has awarded it preferred bidding status, with Lockheed Martin tapped as the foreign technical assistance company (TAC).
In early February, Seoul was forced to re-tender the programme after KAI emerged as the only bidder for the KRW8.5 trillion ($8.3 billion) programme.
The other interested party in the deal was Korean Air, which would have received technical assistance from Airbus Defence & Space, which owns 46% of the Eurofighter Consortium through the involvement of Germany and Spain in the programme.
The KFX is envisaged as a two-engined fighter that is more advanced than the Lockheed Martin F-16, but not up to the standard of types such as the F-35 Lightning II. It will replace obsolescent types in the Korean air force’s inventory, namely the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom and Northrop F-5.
The Indonesian government has a 20% share in the programme. Seoul is expected to order 120 examples of the KFX, and Indonesia 80.