SEOUL (AFP) - European aerospace consortium EADS has been eliminated from a bid to provide fighter jets worth US$7.3 billion (S$9.3 billion) to South Korea due to a failure to meet some requirements, a report said on Sunday.
The Eurofighter was dropped from the bid also sought by US company Boeing after the South's military found that the EADS proposal did not meet its key demands, Yonhap news agency said. It cited an unidentified official at the Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA). A spokesman for DAPA was not immediately available for comment.
"A problem was found in the proposal document of one of two final bidders. The company in question was deemed unfit (to join the final bid)," Yonhap quoted the DAPA official as saying, adding the troubled bidder was known to be EADS.
Seoul is seeking 45 one-seater aircraft and 15 two-seaters, but EADS proposed only six two-seater aircraft, which are costly to produce, due to budget problems, Yonhap said. It also quoted the estimated budget in British pounds instead of in US dollars as demanded by Seoul, the news agency said.
DAPA will submit the proposal from the remaining bidder for a final review by top military officials, the official added, indicating Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle would be the only candidate.
The contract to replace Seoul's ageing fleet of F-4 and F-5 jets comes as major defence suppliers reel from drastic cutbacks in military spending in the US and Europe. It was initially sought by EADS and US firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin, but Lockheed Martin has reportedly dropped out of the race.
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 ties.
But EADS' hopes were raised in January, when Anglo-Italian company AgustaWestland beat US defence giant Sikorsky for a US$567 million contract to supply six helicopters to the South Korean navy.