Eurofighter gets a reprieve in battle for South Korean military jets order

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The Independent Online

Eurofighter Typhoon partners BAE Systems and EADS have won a reprieve on one of the biggest aerospace contracts of the year, a £5bn order for 60 fighter jets in South Korea.

Having already lost out on lucrative deals in India, Japan and Switzerland over the past two years, Eurofighter was set to be pipped to the South Korea contract by EADS' fierce rival Boeing.

The US giant's F-15SE was said to have been the only one of the three bids to have come in under budget, but was still rejected at a meeting led by South Korea's defence minister, Kim Kwan-jin yesterday. The third bid was Lockheed Martin's F-35, which earned high marks in testing.

South Korea needs to replace its ageing fleet of military jets, but Boeing was ultimately rejected for lacking certain technical features. Instead, South Korea will relaunch the bidding competition, which will cause delays but allow Eurofighter and Lockheed Martin to re-scope their bids in order to meet Seoul's strict criteria.

The Eurofighter partnership was the catalyst for last year's merger talks between Britain's BAE and pan-European group EADS.

However, political interference from Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, put paid to the creation of a European defence and aerospace empire.