South Korea is likely to choose Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle as its next generation fighter jet after two other bids went over budget.
Top decision makers in Seoul’s 8.3tn won (£4.8bn) fighter jet tender have briefed the president on the outcome of an assessment process and told her that the F-15SE was the sole eligible bid, a source with knowledge of the process told Reuters today.
The source could not be identified due to the sensitivity of the closed-door meeting, but a spokesman for the Defence Acquisition Program Administration confirmed the meeting had taken place.
The new jets are being acquired to partially replace ageing F-4 and F-5 jets, but according to the source, rivals Lockheed Martin Corp's costlier F-35 stealth fighter and the Eurofighter consortium's Typhoon were both over budget.
Debate has intensified as the tender decision has drawn closer and 15 South Korean former air force chiefs signed a petition in late August opposing the selection of the F-15SE, saying it lacked the stealth capabilities of more modern aircraft.
The closely fought tender will be scrutinised by a final decision-making committee chaired by the defence minister. The committee meeting is expected to be held next week, the DAPA spokesman said, but a date had not been set.
Lockheed Martin and Eurofighter declined to comment on the status of the tender while Boeing said in a written statement that it was waiting for the tender process to be completed.