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S. Korea temporarily suspends bidding for next-generation fighter jet program

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, July 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has temporarily suspended bidding for the its next-generation fighter jet project, mainly due to none of the contenders meeting the preset budget limit, the state arms procurer said Friday.

South Korea is pushing to buy 60 fighter jets to replace its aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 jets starting from 2017. Vying for the project are Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle; Lockheed Martin's F-35 stealth jet; and the Eurofighter Tranche 3 Typhoon from the European Aerospace Defense and Space Company (EADS).

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said that it has received 55 separate price bids from the three manufacturers from June 18 onwards, but none have met the 8.3 trillion (US$7.3 billion) budget limit.

"There is a need to carefully check the bids placed so far before making a decision to move forward," said a DAPA official who declined to be identified.

He said Seoul will soon decide whether to stop the price bidding altogether or accept additional bids.

There have been speculations that South Korea may alter the program in light of the steep prices for the jets being offered.

Any changes expected may include reducing the number of planes to be bought or purchasing the planes over a longer period of time to reduce the financial burden.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/yonhap-news-agency/130705/s-korea-temporarily-suspends-bidding-next-generation-fight-0