Lockheed Martin [LMT] said Monday that media reports suggesting the F-35 had fallen out of consideration in South Korea’s competition for its next fighter jet were inaccurate and speculative, and was working closely with the U.S. government to continue to offer the stealth fighter.
South Korea is expected to announce the winner of the competition among the F-35, Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle and the Eurofighter consortium’s Typhoon in September. South Korea plans to buy 60 aircraft under the F-X program.
|Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is among the three aircraft under consideration by the South Koreans. Photo by Lockheed Martin|
"Lockheed Martin has not to date received an official notification from the Republic of Korea regarding the results of the price bidding for the F-X program,” Lockheed Martin said. “The F-X source selection process has multiple phases and we will continue to work closely with the U.S. Government as they offer the F-35 to (South) Korea. Lockheed Martin is honored that Republic of Korea is considering the F-35A to meet its national defense requirements.”
Reuters, citing sources close to the process, reported that only Boeing’s offering came in under Seoul’s planned budget, but also noted that element is only one part of the process. If true, the price assessment could put Boeing in the early lead to win the competition. The defense giant, however, refrained from any public gloating.
“Boeing has not received an official notification from the Republic of Korea regarding a decision in the F-X competition,” Boeing said. “We await word on the next steps in the selection process and will continue to work closely with the Republic of Korea in meeting their defense requirements.”
South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) assessing the fighters said late last week that only one bid came in on budget, but did not identify whose proposal it was, Reuters said. Other local media reports suggested the F-35 and Typhoon could be out.
Reuters reported that the Typhoon was considered over budget because the Eurofighter consortium altered the stated requirements to get costs down.
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in April it notified Congress of a potential Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) to South Korea for the F-15s and of the same number of conventional F-35As under a Foreign Military Sales program.