Boeing and Eurofighter go head-to-head again for 20-aircraft deal, as Dassault and Sukhoi withdraw interest

Boeing's F-15 and the Eurofighter Typhoon are to contest the $2.4 billion next phase of South Korea's F-X fighter contest, with potential rivals Dassault and Sukhoi having decided against entering the second round of bidding.

Officials from Boeing and the Euro­fighter consortium at­tended a compulsory presentation conducted by South Korea's Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA), which spelt out Seoul's requirements for the 20-aircraft deal. Dassault and Sukhoi did not send representatives.

"Dassault said in 2002 that it won't take part in future South Korean competitions, and it appears to be keeping to its word. Sukhoi probably realised that it had little chance as well," says a Seoul-based industry source. "The Koreans will be relieved that Eurofighter is still keen as they want a competition, as opposed to awarding a single-source contract."

© Geoff Lee / Eurofighter   

Eurofighter is keen to break into Asia

The new requirement is being opened up to competition even though Boeing won a contract to supply the South Korean air force with 40 F-15Ks in 2002, plus 40 options. The F-15 was chosen over the Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and Sukhoi Su-35, although the Rafale came out on top in the evaluation.

The decision hardened perceptions that South Korea is biased towards procuring US military hardware, and prompted Seoul to launch an open bid for the second phase of its contest. However, in a possible indication of its platform preference, the DAPA's K-X requirement calls for the acquisition of an "F-15 class" aircraft.

Eurofighter's confidence is based on its sales record and the fact that the aircraft has now proven its capabilities, says the industry source. Around 100 are now operational with launch users Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, and deals to export a further 90 to Austria and Saudi Arabia are progressing. "It [Eurofighter] is determined to break into the Asian market, and the fact that it had more representatives at the meeting than any other company shows how seriously it is taking this," the source notes.

Boeing and Eurofighter must submit their proposals for the K-X deal by 18 April, with a contract to be signed around February 2008 and deliveries to occur in the 2010-12 timeframe.


Source: Flight International