The South Korean government has rejected Boeing‘s[BA] bid to supply 60 F-15E Silent Eagles, dealing a massive blow to the defense giant and opening the door to Lockheed Martin’s [LMT] F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as it now plans to hold another competition to select its next fleet of fighter jets.
The South Korean government’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration, or DAPA, voted down the Boeing proposal Tuesday, Reuters reported. The F-15s were the only bid that had beenunder consideration for the $7.7 billion contract, as Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and the Eurofighter consortium’s Typhoon were previously eliminated because they did not meet budget requirements.
|Lockheed Martin’s F-35 still alive in South Korean competition. Photo by Lockheed Martin|
Reuters reported that the South Korean Defense Ministry signaled the best course was instead to pursue a fifth generation fighter jet with the stealth and other advanced technologies represented by the F-35 over an updated version of the F-15.
"Our air force thinks that we need combat capabilities in response to the latest trend of aerospace technology development centered around the fifth generation fighter jets and to provocations from North Korea," defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters, according to Reuters.
After reports emerged in August indicated the F-35 had been eliminated, several former senior South Korean military officers waged a public campaign against the F-15, and Lockheed Martin insisted it was still in the mix.
It is expected to take a year for the South Korea government to stage a new competition. Boeing said it was disappointed by the decision.
“Boeing has rigorously followed DAPA’s instructions throughout the whole process,” the company said in a statement. “We await details from DAPA on its basis for the delay while evaluating our next options.”
Lockheed Martin said it will continue to offer the F-35 through the U.S. government.