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FIRMS VIE FOR SOUTH KOREAN HELICOPTER DEAL

US, EUROPEAN FIRMS VIE FOR SOUTH KOREAN HELICOPTER DEAL

18 Jun 04. Five top U.S. and European aerospace firms have submitted bids for a 10 trillion won ($8.7bn) South Korean project to build military helicopters, the defence ministry said on Friday.

The Korean Multi-role Helicopter (KMH) project, the country’s single-biggest arms procurement deal, aims to build 477 new helicopters to replace the military’s ageing fleet.

The government had received tenders from three U.S. companies — Boeing Co (NYSE:BA – News), Bell Helicopter Textron, a unit of Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT – News), and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, a unit of United Technologies Corp (NYSE:UTX – News). The other bidders were British-Italian joint venture, Agusta-Westland, and Eurocopter, the helicopter arm of European aerospace company EADS (Paris:EAD.PA – News), the defence ministry said in a statement.The project has received added impetus since the United States confirmed it planned to removed 12,500 of its 37,500 based in South Korea, which have for half a century helped guard against aggression from communist North Korea.

South Korea remains technically at war with communist North Korea since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armed truce. “The government will select the best foreign bidder by the end of September to kick off the project in October,” a ministry spokesman said. Under the plan, the foreign partner will join domestic developers, including Korea Aerospace Industries, a local aircraft parts maker, and Korean Air (KSE:003490.KS – News). The KMH project it targeting domestic production of a transport helicopter by 2010 and an attack helicopter by 2012. ($1=1156.6 Won) (Source: Reuters)

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