The Philippines' planned multi-role fighter programme has been delayed again, ostensibly because of a dispute over a tender bond .

The decision also gives the country's new Government more time to re-evaluate its procurement priorities.

Six competing manufacturers had been due to submit their final tenders on 15 July, but this has been postponed to an undetermined date. The decision follows objections by some contenders that they had to lodge a bid bond of 2-3% of the overall contract value.

Companies can either lodge a refundable cash deposit or pay a bank $250,000 for a standby letter of credit.

It is understood that the US Foreign Military Sales office, which is representing Boeing and Lockheed Martin, has refused, instead offering a government letter of guarantee.

The Philippine armed forces have, in turn, referred the matter to the Supreme Court for legal advice, which could delay the programme by up to six months.

At the same time, some observers in Manila detect a shift in the position of the new Estrada administration in the face of the country's higher-than-expected budget deficit and the nation's weakening peso.

Source: Flight International