South Korea’s projects to develop indigenous fighters and purchase stealth warplanes have gained momentum as Seoul reportedly plans to approve crucial administrative steps at the national defense acquisition program committee in September, according to Korea Herald.
According to the report, top defense officials will approve the bidding plan for the “KFX project” to develop home-built fighters, and the result of negotiations for the FX stealth fighter procurement project will be reported.
After giving public notice of the bids for the KFX project this month, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration plans to pick the preferred bidder in November and sign a contract on the system development in December. Korea Aerospace Industries, the country’s sole fighter maker, is likely to be chosen as the system developer.
The project has been caught in controversy over whether the KFX would take a single-engine platform or a double-engine one. But last month, the government opted for a double-engine platform, which would increase the plane’s overall capabilities despite a potential price increase, it added.
Seoul also seeks to sign the “letter of acceptance” for the FX project as early as September ― a process that would accelerate its acquisition of 40 radar-evading F-35 fighters from the U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin. The FX project is estimated to cost around 7.4 trillion won.
The DAPA is in the final round of negotiations over the price with the U.S. government, while it is in talks over technology transfer and related issues with Lockheed Martin. The FX project is proceeding through a government-to-government foreign military sales program, the report concluded.