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09:29 AM, May 20, 2016
Eurojet Turbo, GE in Race To Supply Engine For Korean KF-X Fighter
Eurojet Turbo, GE in Race To Supply Engine For Korean KF-X Fighter

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is currently reviewing two foreign jet engine makers to power country’s first indigenously-developed combat aircraft and is expected to zero-in on one firm by June.

European jet engine giant Eurojet Turbo GmbH is competing against US rival General Electric (GE) for the South Korean deal to procure engines for its high-profile indigenous fighter jet project, known as the Korean Fighter Experimental, or KF-X.

In the review process, the DAPA will compare the two engine makers' technology levels, technology transferability as well as the price, a DAPA official told Yonhap, adding that a contract to be inked in June.

Under the 18 trillion won ($15.2 billion)-worth project, South Korea seeks to develop and manufacture 120 multi-role twin-engine combat jets by mid-2020 to replace its US-made fleet of F-4 and F-5 aircraft. The planes will be the first fighter jets ever to be designed and produced from scratch inside the country.

South Korea had sought to tap into 25 different fighter jet technologies owned by U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin in an off-set deal signed alongside the country's purchase of the F-35 in 2014. The fifth-generation fighter is made by the U.S. firm.

But, the U.S. government ruled out four of the 25 U.S. technologies as not exportable last year, including the sensitive technology to build active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

For the remaining 21 technologies, the U.S. government issued its export license in November last year, and currently 12 technicians from Lockheed Martin are in Seoul to help with the project, the official also said.

The DAPA is committed to developing the AESA radar on its own, but it does not rule out the option of buying it from outside the country, the official added.

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