Boeing and Saab are in the race for South Korea's upcoming maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) contract that could see Seoul buy up to 60 MPA potentially worth several billion dollars.
While Boeing has proposed its P-8A Poseidon aircraft, Saab has offered its Swordfish aircraft as candidates for the contract. The planes have the ability to detect North Korea's submarines and other underwater threats.
As an initial purchase, South Korea's Navy said that it wants to acquire six more MPA to augment the 16 P-3C and P-3CK Orion planes currently in service. Over time, this order could grow up to 60 airplanes.
"The Navy plans to receive requests for the proposal from the bidders and after a careful evaluation, pick the winning plane next year," said an official, who declined to be identified was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Sunday from the ADEX show.
Boeing’s aircraft based on the B737-800 airframe is currently in service with the United States Navy and has been selected by India, Australia, UK and Norway
Both the contending MPAs been specifically built for missions ranging from anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface unit warfare and general reconnaissance. They have the ability to say up in the air for extended periods and can conduct night-time operations as well.
Saab has offered South Korea the opportunity to take part in development and construction of the planes. This it said could allow the country to build its own MPA platforms going forward.
The company is said to have offered to build two to three of the initial Swordfish planes in Sweden, with the rest being assembled in South Korea.
The Swordfish is built on the airframe of the Bombardier Global 6000 business jet, with Saab claiming the plane is capable of 12 hours of loitering time. The plane is equipped with an active electronically scanned array radar that has 360 degrees detection capability.