South Korea has selected General Electric (GE) as the preferred bidder for its next-generation Experimental (KF-X) fighter jets.
The South Korean procurement agency, Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) made the selection public on Thursday, Yonhap reported.
European engine maker Eurojet Turbo GmbH and GE had been vying to become the engine provider for the 18 trillion won (US$15.3 billion) project that calls for building 120 locally made twin-engine combat jets, the news agency reported.
Seoul aims to deploy the new planes starting in the mid-2020s to replace its aging jet fleet of F-4s and F-5s. DAPA said that it plans to clinch a contract with GE next month after holding negotiations over the terms of the deal.
It earlier said that it will seek to finalize the basic designs for the plane by September next year and come up with a detailed design by January 2019.
As part of efforts to push for the project, the DAPA last month selected domestic defense manufacturer Hanwha Thales as a preferred bidder to produce an advanced radar system to be installed onto the fighter jets.
The KF-X project has gained a boost from the U.S. pledge to transfer some of its jet technologies. But Seoul is facing the challenge of finding an alternative supplier for four core technologies that Washington cannot hand over.