Lockheed says S. Korea jet fighter contest not over

WASHINGTON Sun Aug 18, 2013 8:23pm BST

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WASHINGTON Aug 18 (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp said on Sunday it would continue to work with the U.S. government on South Korea's huge fighter jet competition, despite reports that the firm's F-35 had been eliminated due to its high cost leaving only Boeing Co's F-15 in the running.

"Lockheed Martin has not received an official notification from the Republic of Korea regarding the results of the price bidding for the F-X Program," the company said in a statement.

"The F-X source selection process has multiple phases and we will continue to work closely with the U.S. government as they offer the F-35 to Korea," it said.

South Korea's F-X program is aimed at buying 60 next-generation fighter jets to replace its current aging fleet.

The country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration resumed the bidding last week for the jets after suspending the process in July because all the bids were too high.

The United States handles foreign military sales on a government-to-government basis, with the companies providing information on price and other details.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported earlier on Sunday that Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle appeared to be the last plane in the running for the $7.2 billion fighter project.

The same report said the Eurofighter Tranche 3 Typhoon made by the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company was eliminated because of paperwork problems and the F-35 stealth jet made by Lockheed was priced too high.

Boeing also said it was still waiting to hear the outcome of the competition.

"We believe our F-15 proposal can affordably meet the Republic of Korea's requirements. We await their decision and stand ready to deliver on our commitments," a spokesman for Boeing said.

One industry source said Seoul's decision would be decided on other factors besides cost, including the capabilities of the new fighters.

"It's not going to be decided on cost alone," said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly. The source said cost accounted for 15 percent of the decision.

South Korean officials were expected to examine the capabilities of the proposed aircraft over the next 30 days, the source said.

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