The South Korean Government has decided not to seek rights to assemble locally whichever aircraft is selected to meet its $3.2 billion F-X fighter requirement, and will sign a direct-purchase agreement instead.

Seoul's 70% industrial offset requirement is now focused on securing technology the country needs to develop and build a Lockheed Martin F-16-class fighter indigenously by 2015.

Shortlisted for F-X are the Boeing F-15K, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and Sukhoi Su-35. A final selection is expected within weeks. However, political considerations stemming from South Korea's close relationship with the USA are widely seen as favouring the F-15K.

Boeing claims its offset package is worth $2.8 billion in "economic benefit", and includes 29 technology transfer projects aimed at supporting development of an indigenous fighter.

Eurofighter is offering Korea the opportunity to become a full partner in the development of future versions of the multirole fighter. With regard to offset "we are selecting specific projects which we believe are of great value to[South Korea's] aspirations," says Eurofighter International president Cesare Gianni.

Dassault chairman and chief executive Charles Edelstenne says local industry will be offered production contracts for major Rafale sections and fuselage subassemblies for Falcon business jets, while Samsung will make parts for the fighter's Snecma M88 powerplant.

Technology transfer is set to cover Rafale electro-optics and source codes from its electronic warfare suite.

Sukhoi says the strengths of its proposal are its low cost and the "supermanoeuvrability" of theSu-35, which the Russian company claims meets all of the air force's operational requirements.

Together with Rosoboronexport the company has also prepared an extensive package of offsets including an offer to transfer advanced software technology.

Source: Flight International