European aerospace giant EADS has offered a $2.0 billion investment sweetener as it seeks to edge out US rivals for a contract to provide 60 advanced fighter planes to South Korea.
The consortium announced in a statement Thursday it would pump the cash into a separate South Korean project to develop its own advanced fighter jets, if EADS is chosen for the combat aircraft contract valued at 8.3 trillion won ($7.2 billion).
Three fighters are in the running for the procurement deal: Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle, Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II and the EADS Eurofighter Typhoon.
A decision is expected by the end of next month.
South Korea's military procurement needs, especially where the air force is concerned, have overwhelmingly been met by US suppliers in the past -- a reflection of their close military alliance.
But EADS' hopes were raised in January, when the Anglo-Italian company AgustaWestland beat out US defence giant Sikorsky for a $567 million contract to supply six helicopters to the South Korean navy.
EADS $2.0 billion investment offer is focused on South Korea's KF-X program aimed at developing an indigenous multi-role combat fighter.
"If the assembly of the Eurofighter and the KF-X program are conducted at the same time in Korea, it will bring economic effects worth dozens of trillions of won and create 50,000 jobs in Korea," the EADS statement said.
EADS has already promised that 53 of the 60 Eurofighters will be assembled in South Korea if it wins the contract.
by James PHEBY Â© 2013 AFP
Date: May 24, 2013