South Korea air force asks for stealthier jets; boosts F-35 chances

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 10, 2013 7:27 PM
South Korea air force asks for stealthier jets; boosts F-35 chances

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's air force has asked for enhanced stealth capability for fighter jets set to be purchased, a government source briefed on the matter said on Monday, further bolstering the chances of Lockheed Martin winning the tender with its F-35s.

In September, South Korea's government bowed to public pressure and voted down a bid by Boeing to supply 60 warplanes, saying it would restart the multi-billion tender process to get a more advanced, radar-evading fighter.

At the time, only Boeing's bid had come within budget.

The source said the air force's request will need to be approved at a meeting of the country's Joint Chiefs of Staff expected near the end of November before being finalized at a committee chaired by the defense minister.

The Eurofighter consortium is also bidding in the 8.3 trillion won ($7.8 billion) tender.

($1 = 1064.9500 Korean won) (Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)